SINGAPORE – Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean visited USS Freedom, July 12, while the ship was moored at Changi Naval Base.
Mr. Teo, a former Republic of Singapore Chief of Navy, visited the U.S. Navy’s first-of-class littoral combat ship as she prepares to participate in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore next week – an annual bilateral exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy in its 19th year. Mr. Teo also serves as Singapore’s Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other,” Teo said of Freedom’s deployment to Southeast Asia and her participation in exercises and exchanges with regional navies, including the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). “I’m glad we were able to come aboard and see the ship.”
The visit included a tour of Freedom’s bridge, mission control center, crew berthing spaces, mess decks, hangar, flight deck and boat ramp. Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, Freedom’s commanding officer, said the Deputy Prime Minister was impressed with Freedom’s use of space and minimal manning.
“There are a lot of similarities between littoral combat ships and RSN frigates in terms of size, manning and capabilities,” Wilke said. “And as the first littoral combat ship deployed to this region, and the first to operate out of Singapore, Freedom is here to showcase its capabilities and learn from other navies that have operated comparable ships in the region.”
Fast, agile, and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. Freedom deployed to Southeast Asia with an embarked MH-60R helicopter and the Surface Warfare Mission Package, which includes two 11-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB), 30mm guns, and boarding teams.
“It’s always an honor to host such distinguished visitors, especially those who appreciate what we do,” said Chief Gunner’s Mate Steven Luken.
Freedom is manned with a “Gold” crew of 91 Sailors, which includes mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate the embarked MH-60R helicopter. The ship will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway the deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her “Blue” crew.