By Lt. Ed Early, USS Freedom Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Freedom (LCS 1) will reach its latest significant milestone when she enters the 3rd Fleet Area of Responsibility April 4.
"We are excited to have USS Freedom join the 3rd Fleet team," said Commander, 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Richard Hunt. "The Littoral Combat Ship class provides a transformational capability to theater naval commanders which will enhance support for the war on terrorism, theater security cooperation (TSC) with partner nations, and emerging operational requirements."
After entering 3rd Fleet, Freedom will conduct TSC engagements with partner nations, conduct routine training at sea, officially arrive in San Diego in late April, and then participate in the International Fleet Review in Canada commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy and the 22nd Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii, both being conducted this Summer.
Prior to arriving, Freedom conducted counter-illicit trafficking (CIT) operations in the Caribbean Sea and off the coasts of Central and South America under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet.
In less than three weeks of CIT operations in the Caribbean, Freedom made three drug seizures, recovering more than three tons of cocaine and capturing one vessel and five suspected drug smugglers.
"During its deployment, Freedom has demonstrated that its class will become a key component of the 21st century Navy," said Hunt. "We look forward to employing Freedom to help us meet the challenges of operating in the littorals. The LCS-class brings unique capabilities, exponentially expanding the ability of 3rd Fleet and the Navy to execute the maritime strategy."
Embarked aboard Freedom are Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Detachment 2, based in Norfolk; the first tailored LCS Surface Warfare Mission Package, based in San Diego; and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.
The first ship in the revolutionary littoral combat ship class, Freedom is a fast, agile, maneuverable, and networked surface modular ship designed to complement the Navy's larger multi-mission surface combatants in select mission areas, including combating submarines, mines, and fast-attack craft threats in the littorals.
Freedom began its maiden deployment Feb. 16, more than two years ahead of schedule, and will complete the deployment when it arrives in its homeport of San Diego in late April.
For more information about USS Freedom, and its mission, visit www.freedom.navy.mil.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.