SINGAPORE - Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift visited USS Freedom (LCS 1) June 10 to hold an all hands call, tour the ship and meet with crewmembers.
USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and its embarked 7th Fleet staff recently arrived in Singapore for a scheduled port visit. Swift took the opportunity to meet with crewmembers stationed aboard the Navy's first littoral combat ship and commend them for working through the challenges of deploying a first-of-class ship on a maiden overseas deployment.
"There are some significant demands being placed on this crew that would be challenging for any ship, much less a new platform," said Swift. "And I appreciate the quality of the job you have done, as well as the quantity. You really are showing the way and are the plank owners of this whole process."
Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, commanding officer of USS Freedom, gave Swift a tour of the ship's airborne mission zone, waterborne mission zone, mission control center and pilot house before introducing him to some of the ship's stellar Sailors. "What we're doing is historic," explained Wilke. "Because of the flexibility of the platform there are any number of places you can operate LCS from in the region. We're just beginning to discover how to best employ this platform."
Freedom arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) March 20, marking a key milestone in her eight-month deployment to Southeast Asia. Following in the wake of countless ships, aircraft and Sailors deployed to 7th Fleet over the past 70 years to maintain security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, Freedom's deployment to Southeast Asia speaks to the Navy's ongoing commitment to this vital maritime region.
Fast, agile and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surfaces warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. Her "Gold" crew of 91 Sailors includes mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.
Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway through Freedom's deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her "Blue" crew.