ners and see how they operate
smaller, faster and more maneuverable ships throughout Southeast
Asia’s littorals,” Dempsey said.
Southeast Asian nations got their
first taste of the LCS when USS
Freedom (LCS 1) paid a visit in
2013, where it participated in the
bilateral exercise series Cooperation
Afloat Readiness and Training
(CARAT), as well as the multilateral
Southeast Asia Cooperation and
Training (SEACAT) exercise. After
Freedom left, and before Fort Worth
arrived, regional partners “
frequently asked when the next LCS would
visit their ports and go to sea with
their ships,” Dempsey said, noting
that it underscores the regional
demand for the vessels.
“We’ve reached a point where
LCS is becoming a regular and routine presence in the region, which
means only more opportunities to
engage with our partner navies,” she added.
Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic
and Budgetary Assessments, said the LCS is being used
mostly to train Sailors on maritime security in exercises
in Southeast Asia. It has deployed with the surface warfare mission package and conducted vessel interdictions
and boardings, as well as small boat defense.
“This is noteworthy since the LCS is probably going
to be much better known and more useful as an ASW
[anti-submarine warfare] and MCM [mine counter-
measures] ship once those mission packages are
deployed,” Clark said. “They are both very capable, as
shown by the effectiveness of the MCM systems in
three [exercises] in the Persian Gulf.”
The LCS already has shown its use in real-world
operations, as Fort Worth assisted in the search for
Malaysian airline wreckage in the Java Sea earlier this
year, “and was apparently very helpful,” Clark noted,
adding that its large helicopter deck makes it useful for
maritime security and search-and-rescue operations,
with two helos able to operate at the same time.
And, again, there is the matter of size, he said. The
LCS is much less intimidating and easier to work with
for Southeast Asian partners.
“In exercises it doesn’t stand out like a DDG [guided-
missile destroyer] does,” Clark said. “And while a DDG
has a range of high-end capabilities and missions, the
LCS can focus on a smaller set of maritime security and
surface warfare missions that are similar to what their
[Southeast Asian] counterpart ships do. It makes for
much smoother cooperation and training compared to
bringing up a DDG that is twice the size, has 10 times
the firepower and many more missions to train to than
their [Southeast Asian] counterparts.”
The Navy also feels the smaller size is just plain
practical for a heavily littoral area such as the
Southeast Asia region, he said.
“In Foal Eagle, LCS was able to operate in coastal
waters where DDGs and FFGs were not able to go in
previous exercises, so they are looking at new ways to
use it,” Clark said. “For example, it could conduct
close-in defense of South Korean ports from DPRK
[North Korea] small-boat attack, or, with the ASW
mission package, mini-subs.
“If the ship can operate closer to shore, it is less likely
a North Korean boat or sub could sneak by,” he added.
During Freedom’s time in Southeast Asia, it participat-
ed in CARAT exercises with Malaysia and Singapore, as
well as SEACAT and Singapore’s International Maritime
and Defense Exhibition (IMDEX). It also conducted
exercises with the Brunei and Bangladesh navies.
Fort Worth followed in Freedom’s footsteps, immedi-
ately going to work with Indonesian partners to look for
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 before heading to Foal Eagle.
“Shortly after the exercise, Fort Worth will make a port
visit in Japan for routine logistics and maintenance
before beginning her return transit to Southeast Asia,”
Dempsey said. “It’s also the first time LCS will make a
visit to Japan and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to engage with our naval counterparts there.” ;
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 60 SEAPOWER / APRIL 2015
Sailors assigned to Commander, Republic of Korea 2nd Fleet, welcome the lit-
toral combat ship USS Fort Worth during an arrival ceremony for a port visit in
Pyeongtaek March 4. The visit provided members of both navies the opportu-
nity to conduct theater security cooperation engagements and rehearse train-
ing scenarios for the Foal Eagle exercises, which run from March to April and
take place in international waters around South Korea.