Japan Maritime Self Defence Force leadership visited the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) Mar. 20.
Vice Adm. Tokuhiro Ikeada, commandant, Sasebo District, Rear Adm. Hidetoshi Fuchinoue, chief of staff, Sasebo District, Rear Adm. Hidetoshi Iwasaki, commander, Escort Flotilla 2, and JMSDF officers toured the ship while it was in port Sasebo conducting routine maintenance.
“We’ve heard a lot about Fort Worth and the LCS so this was a great opportunity to see what the ship has to offer,” said Ikeada. “We look forward to working with future LCSs at-sea as more of these ships deploy to the U.S. 7th Fleet .”
While on board, JMSDF leadership toured Fort Worth's bridge and mission control center as well as her airborne and waterborne mission zones. During the tour, the officers learned how the ship’s modularity allows it to be reconfigured for a number of missions including surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare. The potential of LCS modularity was also demonstrated by embarking U.S. Navy divers during the recent AirAsia search and by embarking U.S. Marines for a portion of the annual U.S.-Republic of Korea Foal Eagle exercise.
“In the U.S. Navy, we believe that we are stronger when we engage our allies and partners during exercises, exchanges and port visits like this one, “ said Cmdr. Matt Kawas, Fort Worth Crew 103 commanding officer. “It’s likely members of my crew will return to the Indo-Asia-Pacific in the future and so these ship tours allow us to develop relationships that will last throughout our careers, and possibly even beyond.”
Following USS Freedom’s (LCS 1) 2013 deployment, Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy to 7th Fleet as part of an initiative to simultaneously deploy up to four LCS in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of the decade. The third and fourth LCS deployments are expected in 2016.
Working primarily out of Singapore as a maintenance and logistics hub, this is the first time an LCS has operated in Northeast Asia. Prior to arriving in Japan, Fort Worth participated in the U.S.-Republic of Korea annual exercise Foal Eagle.
Following the Sasebo port visit and a brief routine underway period off the coast of Japan, Fort Worth will begin her return transit to Southeast Asia, where she will begin exchanges with regional navies such as the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) 2015 in Singapore before turning over to the next crew in late May.
Throughout the summer and fall, Fort Worth will take part in most of the2015 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 Seahawk 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, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.