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SINGAPORE - USS Freedom's "Blue" crew got the ship underway for the first time Aug 8., days after completing a crew swap with the "Gold" crew.
The morning began with command quarters and an awards ceremony for a junior Sailor: Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Christian Diaz was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and a Letter of Appreciation. Then LCS crew 101 kicked into full gear: shore power disconnected, engineering and command and control spaces manned and equipment secured for sea for the first underway of their deployment to Southeast Asia.
"With all the training and preparation we completed prior to getting underway," said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Jessica Brigance. "I believe we are more than capable to put Freedom on the map and show people what LCS is all about." Brigance, from Conway, Ark., has been in the Navy for one year on this day exactly and says this deployment will be a great and challenging experience for her. This is her first time at sea.
This initial underway gives the crew an opportunity to exercise command and control functions, damage control, as well as visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations. Scheduled events during this underway will include: flight operations, aircraft and main space firefighting drills, rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) launch and recovery movements, compliant boarding exercises, and 57mm and 30mm fire control exercises.
"We will be conducting maritime interception operations with a 12-man boarding team," said Chief Gunner's Mate Joel Hernandez. "This deployment will give our team the opportunity to refine the team's tactical knowledge and techniques."
"Getting underway is a proud moment for our Sailors," said Freedom's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Pat Thien. "We have a great feeling of accomplishment after all the training and work we completed prior to arriving in Singapore. We are finally doing what we need to do."
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 deployed to Southeast Asia March 1, and completed a crew swap Aug. 6, marking the midway point of the deployment. Freedom will return to her homeport in San Diego at the end of the year.