SINGAPORE (NNS) -- LCS CREW 102, successfully completed a crew swap with LCS Crew 101, aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a rotational deployment to the Asia-Pacific Nov. 7.
The turnover marks the end of a deployment for Crew 102, which frequently worked with other navies in South and Southeast Asia through a variety of exercises and joint patrols.
"Over the last six months the crew has forged new personal and professional relationships with several of our Southeast Asian allies and partners and we look forward to returning to this exciting and complex theater of operations in the not-too-distant future," said Cmdr. Christopher Brown, commanding officer of Fort Worth.
Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the "3-2-1" manning concept, which allows LCS to sustain a 16-month forward presence without fatiguing the crew during the extended deployment. It is named 3-2-1 because three rotational crews will support two LCS ships and maintain one deployed ship.
"The deployment for LCS Crew 102, Surface Warfare, Detachment 4 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, Detachment 3, aboard Fort Worth over the last six months was one of the most professionally and personally rewarding deployments I've completed in 18 years of naval service," said Brown. "Watching these ordinary men and women perform extraordinarily complex tasks was awe-inspiring and I am proud to have served with these American heroes."
Crew 102 wrapped up its first-ever participation in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines June 26, at Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon, Puerto Princesa, Republic of the Philippines. The annual exercise series began in 1995, and focused on combined operations at sea and maritime patrol and reconnaissance.
In deepening navy-to-navy relationships, Crew 102 visited Surabaya during CARAT Indonesia for the first time in her 16-month rotational deployment to 7th Fleet. This port visit was particularly significant for Fort Worth, since she was part of the Indonesian-led Air Asia search efforts in the Java Sea.
"I'm extremely proud of our accomplishments this deployment," said Lt. Cmdr. Philipp Lines, Air Boss, assigned to HSM-35, Detachment 3. "The Enforcers (HSM 35.3) performed admirably in five bi-nation CARAT exercises and one multi-nation Exercise Malabar this deployment, supporting every aviation requirement. Having both MH-60R Seahawk [helicopter] and MQ-8B Fire scout [unmanned aerial] aircraft ready for each exercise was no small task, requiring careful maintenance planning far in advance."
CARAT Malaysia 2015 consisted of five days of shore-based and at sea training events designed to address shared maritime security concerns, build relationships and enhance interoperability among participating forces. The Royal Malaysian Navy for the first time conducted deck landing practice with its Super Lynx helicopter on Fort Worth's flight deck.
Fort Worth also participated in its first CARAT exercise with the Bangladesh Navy in the Bay of Bengal Oct. 3, and was the first LCS to participate in Exercise Malabar 2015. In an effort to improve our collective maritime relationship and interoperability, Malabar was an Indian Navy - Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)-U.S. Navy trilateral training exercise.
"It was great to be a boatswain's mate on this deployment," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Kevin Lopez. "I'm not sure I will ever get another chance to land Indian and Philippine navy helicopters on our flight deck."
Crew 101 comes aboard with about 100 Sailors, which includes Sailors from HSM-35, Detachment 1 and SUW Mission Package, Detachment 6. Shortly after crew swap, Fort Worth, manned by Crew 101, will begin Initial Ship Aviation Team Training (ISATT) and then head out for the crew's first scheduled exercise, CARAT Cambodia.
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 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.
Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy as part of an initiative for up to four rotational deployments of these ships simultaneously to U.S. 7th Fleet in the coming years.
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.