CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore – The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) departed its maintenance and logistics hub in Singapore April 30 after a five-day preventative maintenance availability (PMAV) and a two-week long repair availability (RAV).
The RAV was the first extended maintenance availability for the ship during its 16-month rotational deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
According to Cmdr. Michael Desmond, LCS Crew 103 executive officer, these maintenance periods make it possible for Fort Worth to remain in theater and underway for a majority of her extended deployment.
"Dedicated time in the ship’s schedule to attend to maintenance is a key part of the LCS operating concept, and this inport period proved to be another success for Fort Worth,” said Desmond. “The entire maintenance team worked very hard to complete a long list of both routine checks and repairs. With the RAV/PMAV behind us, we’re looking forward to completing our remaining underway milestones before turning Fort Worth over to Crew 102 in late May.”
Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the "3-2-1" manning concept, swapping fully trained crews roughly every four months. This concept allows Fort Worth to deploy six months longer than the 2013 USS Freedom (LCS 1) deployment and twice as long as typical U.S. Navy ship deployments, extending LCS forward presence and reducing crew fatigue for the entire 16-month deployment. It is named 3-2-1 because three rotational crews support two LCS ships, one of which is deployed.
“The maintenance period included more than 580 checks and 100 tag outs of engineering, deck and combat systems,” said Lt. Lemont King, chief engineer for LCS Crew 103. “Some of the maintenance that was performed was originally scheduled to be completed during the first quarter of Fort Worth’s deployment, but was successfully rescheduled after Fort Worth was reassigned to assist in the search efforts for AirAsia flight QZ8501.”
Compared to other Navy ships, the LCS has a relatively small crew. Fort Worth’s crew size is around 100 Sailors and consists of Sailors from LCS Crew 103, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM-35) Detachment 2 and Surface Warfare Mission Package Detachment 1. The LCS maintenance construct builds in time for inport maintenance that is normally beyond the capability of Fort Worth's optimally-manned crew.
“Contracting out some of the ship's maintenance is what allows us to operate the ship under an optimal manning construct,” said Desmond. “This maintenance period will certainly go a long way in allowing Fort Worth to continue to meet her future operational commitments."
Fort Worth will conduct routine patrols in the 7th Fleet area of operations before returning to Singapore for the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) 2015 just ahead of the next crew swap in late May.
Throughout the summer and fall, Fort Worth will take part in most of the 2015 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. In its 21st year, CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise series with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations including, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare.
Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare (SUW) mission package for her entire deployment, augmenting her 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, and two six-member maritime security boarding teams. Enhancing the SUW mission package is the embarked aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, which consists of one MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system. The Fire Scout complements the MH-60R by extending the HSM-35's range and endurance, enhancing maritime domain awareness.
The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.