USS Freedom (LCS 1) makes its way into Apra Harbor on U.S. Naval Base Guam, March 29. (U.S. Navy photo by JoAnna Delfin)

SANTA RITA, Guam - USS Freedom (LCS 1), the Navy's first littoral combat ship, arrived in Guam, the furthest western U.S. territory, March 29, during her first Pacific deployment.

While in Guam, Freedom's "Gold" crew will participate in community service opportunities, including mentoring island children, caring for the elderly during the Easter holiday weekend and experiencing local culture.

The ship will also conduct scheduled maintenance, resupply and make any necessary repairs, including the Ship Service Generators (SSDGs), Freedom recently experienced some issues related to these systems and four Naval Sea Systems Command in-service engineering agents met the ship on the pier to ensure any further complications will not occur.

"The crew has worked really hard on this ship to get it ready to go, both in a training aspects and an operational aspect for her first deployment," said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, Freedom's Gold Crew commanding officer. "As we continue to march westward, we are the first littoral combat ship pulling into Guam and the first time pulling in for 7th Fleet."

The littoral combat ship design is unique in what Wilke calls a "plug and play" ship. Freedom is fast, agile and mission-focused designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for numerous operational needs including maritime interdiction, anti-drug operations, mine counter measures and anti-submarine warfare.

"Depending on what you want to do, it is incredibly maneuverable," Wilke said. "Driving the ship, we can spin on the nose, spin center line, back the ship up (or) walk the ship sideways. These are features that are really needed and what the ship was really built for, in shallow waters, we need to be maneuverable."

Due to the 14-foot draft of the ship, entering into shallow waters, including swamps and other wetlands, will enable Freedom to accomplish many of her proposed surface operational demands. In addition, Freedom employs a paint design that disorientates and confuses the human eye, helping the ship's hull avoid visual detection.

"We are deployed to conduct a whole myriad of tasks across a wide spectrum of operations. That is what we were trained for, it's what we have been certified for, and that's what we bring to 7th Fleet," Wilke said. "We stand ready on the 7th Fleet waters to serve that commitment."

Freedom will continue to sail west to engage and bolster regional partnerships with navies in Southeast Asia during her eight-month deployment, showing a clear signal of the Navy's enduring commitment to maintain secure and stable security in the Pacific.