In this file photo, USS Freedom (LCS 1) prepares to enter the channel of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Dec. 13 for a port visit prior to proceeding home to San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro)

SAN DIEGO - The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is scheduled to return to its homeport of San Diego Dec. 23 following the completion of its maiden deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

Deployed since March 1 with her "Gold Crew", known formally as Crew 102, the ship took part in a number of theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations in the region. In August, Crew 102 swapped with the ship's "Blue Crew" (Crew 101), which completed the deployment and will bring the ship back.

Both crews deployed with a ship's company of 53 Sailors, plus embarked air and mission detachments.

Crew 101 participated in the humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts delivering life saving supplies to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

"Our deployment reinforced the continued and deepening focus our nation has on the Southeast Asia region," said Cmdr. Dale Heinken, commanding officer of Freedom's Blue Crew. "During the deployment, we were able to conduct several exercises with nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and others.

"While there was a strategic underpinning to our deployment, we were able to flex and test the LCS concept of operations of forward stationing these ships in places like Singapore, rotating crews, and operating with long-standing and new partners in the region," Heinken said. There were many successes and numerous lessons learned that will pave the way for future LCS deployments."

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.

Freedom will conduct operations and training within Third Fleet's 50-million square mile AOR.

U.S. Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.