PEARL HARBOR - Cmdr. Roger D. Heinken assumed command of USS Freedom (LCS 1), the U.S. Navy's first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), during a change of command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Dec 15.
Heinken relieved Cmdr. Patrick C. Thien as Freedom's "Crew 101" commanding officer as the ship nears completion of her maiden deployment - a nine-month assignment forward-operating from Singapore.
Thien noted the ship's long list of accomplishments and thanked and the crew for their hard work during his three and a half year tour.
"This has been a rewarding tour ... but not rewarding for all the things we accomplished," Thien said. "It has been rewarding because I have had the opportunity and honor to work with, and lead, some of the best Sailors in the Navy."
Capt. Randy Garner, commodore, LCS Squadron One, commended Thien on his leadership and the crew's performance on this proof-of-concept deployment.
"We set out to deploy USS Freedom to the Western Pacific ... to review ship capabilities against the demands in an operating theater, to execute our concept of operations and to find out how you, the crew of USS Freedom, execute given the tools available to you," Garner said. "You have performed superbly given every challenge and highlighted to leadership what can be done with this ship, this crew and in a very dynamic theater of operations."
Freedom's maiden deployment is also the first ever for LCS - a platform that reflects changes in ship operational requirements and in the way the Navy deals with fiscal realities. LCS is designed to operate in shallow waters and features reconfigurable payloads for various missions, and is built in a way that realizes significant cost savings over previous ship classes.
Cmdr. Heinken said he is honored by the opportunity to command the first-of-class ship.
"This is the finest crew that's ever set foot on a warship,' Heinken said. "I'm proud and honored to serve you and be part of the crew 101 family."
USS Freedom's first rotational deployment to Southeast Asia began March 1, when the ship departed San Diego and commenced a Pacific Ocean transit that included port visits in Hawaii, Guam and Manila. Freedom worked out of Singapore, using it as a logistics and maintenance hub between April 18 and Nov. 16, during which she participated in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX), three phases of the bilateral naval exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, and the multinational exercise Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT). During port visits, Freedom hosted thousands visitors throughout Southeast Asia.