SINGAPORE – Sailors aboard USS Freedom (LCS 1) celebrated the ship’s 5th year anniversary since Freedom’s commissioning Nov. 8. The celebration was held in conjunction with a fast-cruise held in preparation for exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Brunei later this month.
Freedom was commissioned Nov. 8, 2008 at Milwaukee’s Veterans Park before a crowd of nearly 10,000. The event was of great significance as a lead ship of the Navy’s littoral combat ship program became part of the Fleet.
To commemorate the event Sailors held a special luncheon and watched a video about Army Sgt. First Class Paul Smith, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The video highlighted his ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom.
“I really enjoyed the video,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Jonathan Brown. “Most of the time we only see a placard and a story about an important individual but seeing the story in action adds depth and a much greater appreciation.”
To conclude the celebration, a cake cutting was held in the ship’s messdecks. As in naval tradition, the cake was ceremoniously cut by the ship’s youngest crewmember, Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Cameron Tafelski at 19-years-old, and the oldest crewmember Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class Jeff Vandersteen at age 54.
Before the cake was passed around, Freedom’s Commanding Officer Cdr. Pat Thien spoke to the crew about the historical significance about the commissioning of the Freedom.
“Over the last 5 years a lot of great things have happened for the Navy and the LCS (littoral combat ship) program as a whole,” said Thien. “Look at how far we have come. What brought this ship to life, and continues to sustain it, is the high quality of our Sailors. We are not only celebrating the birthday of the ship, but we are also celebrating the hard work of every one involved in making this ship succeed and creating a name for LCS.”
As the cake was finished, the fast-cruise was secured. The Sailors onboard are one step closer to beginning CARAT Brunei and the journey back to homeport San Diego.