After years upon years of development and wran- gling in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, the lit- toral combat ship (LCS) finally has made its way
to Southeast Asia — and for operators, it feels like home.
That is because the LCS was designed all those years
ago just for such a deployment, and the deployments
of Freedom-class variants USS Freedom and now Fort
Worth to the region have allowed the Navy to finally
see what the LCS can do, not just operationally but
with the other navies in the region.
In addition to the LCS’ abilities to navigate the shallower littoral waters, its smaller size means it will be
easier for the Navy to build partnerships with its
Southeast Asian allies — a nice bonus, even if that is
not why the LCS was built.
LT Lauren Dempsey, a Navy spokeswoman, said the
LCS is perfectly suited for the Southeast Asia region in
more ways than one. Geographically, the LCS fits right
in, with archipelagos and thousands of miles of coastline
that make it perfect for a smaller vessel as opposed to
the hulking blue-water ships that
make the Navy the most formidable
sea-based force in the world.
The LCS sports a draft of just 14
feet, compared with well over 30
feet for a destroyer or an aircraft carrier. That lets it get to places in the
region where a bigger ship could
never even attempt to go. Add to
that high speed and maneuverability, and it is easy to see why the Navy
considers the LCS a key part of its
shift to the Asia-Pacific region, even
if plenty of critics of the ship remain.
The Navy will get to show off
just what the LCS can do during the
annual Foal Eagle exercise, which
began in late February. Dempsey
said USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) will be
able to navigate the shallow, littoral
waters near South Korea during the exercise, and it will
be able to come in closer than Navy destroyers.
“The ship’s maneuverability and speed will be cru-
cial as Fort Worth operates in a space-constrained envi-
ronment during the exercise,” Dempsey said. “It’s the
first time a LCS will be in Northeast Asia and a part of
Foal Eagle, and we’re looking forward to expanding
the operational potential of LCS, while at the same
time enhancing interoperability and mutual under-
standing within our own navy and with our partners in
the ROK [Republic of Korea] Navy.”
While nothing directly compares with the LCS, the
ship will be working with several foreign vessels that are
at least in the same size ballpark. Brunei’s Darussalam-
class patrol vessel, Malaysia’s Kedah-class patrol vessel,
Indonesia’s Bung Tomo-class corvette and Singapore’s
Victory-class corvette are some of the types of warships
that can be found in Southeast Asia.
“Going to sea with offshore patrol vessels and
corvettes gives us an opportunity to learn from our part-
Size, capabilities of the LCS make it an ideal platform
for developing naval relationships in Southeast Asia
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
The Navy will get to show off what the littoral combat ship (LCS)
is capable of during the annual Foal Eagle exercise, which began
in late February.
; USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) will be able to navigate the shallow, littoral waters near South Korea during the exercise, and it will be
able to come in closer than Navy destroyers.
; The ship will be working with several foreign vessels that are
at least in the same size ballpark.
; Southeast Asian nations got their first taste of operations with
the LCS when USS Freedom (LCS 1) was in the area in 2013 for
the bilateral exercise series Cooperation Afloat Readiness and
Training, as well as the multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation
and Training exercise.