PACIFIC OCEAN - The USS Freedom (LCS 1) conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with the Bangladesh Navy ship BNS Somudro Joy (F-28), Nov. 26.
The PASSEX occurred as both ships transited across the Pacific Ocean in support of multi-national humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the Philippines. Freedom had recently completed delivering aid supplies to Tacloban on Nov. 24, while Somudro Joy was en route to deliver aid.
Formerly the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis, Somudro Joy was transferred to the Bangladesh Navy in May as Excess Defense Articles (EDA) as part of a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case with Bangladesh. The ship departed Alameda, Calif., Oct. 26 and has since transited across the Pacific Ocean en route to Chittagong, Bangladesh.
“This PASSEX was a unique opportunity to work with the Bangladesh Navy,” said Freedom’s Commanding Officer Cmdr. Pat Thien. “Bangladesh was able to show off their navy’s newest warship, and both crews conducted valuable training events at sea.”
Several at sea training events were accomplished over a four-hour period, including a ship-to-ship personnel exchange, diversionary tactics (DIVTACS) and a fire drill on board the Freedom. Conducted as an extension of the bilateral naval exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh, the PASSEX complimented shore-based training events conducted in Chittagong, Bangladesh from Sept. 16-21.
“The personnel exchange was a great way to make friends at sea,” said Freedom’s Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Epps. “I toured Somudro Joy, and learned a great deal from seeing how they operate their ship.”
On board Freedom, crewmembers from Somudro Joy observed shipboard damage control tactics during a class alpha fire drill.
“They saw us come in and test for agent as well as clear personnel from the spaces and set boundaries,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Christian Diaz, a member of the damage control response team. “The interaction was awesome.”
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 used Singapore 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 CARAT with Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, and the multinational exercise Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT). During port visits, Freedom hosted thousands visitors from throughout Southeast Asia.