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Navy: Freedom LCS Conducted More Than Training Missions in South China Sea

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USS Freedom (LCS-1) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Dec. 13, 2013.

USS Freedom (LCS-1) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Dec. 13, 2013.

The U.S. Navy’s first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-1) conducted real-world operations in the South China Sea during the ship’s deployment to Singapore, the commander of U.S. Navy Surface Forces said on Monday.

USS Freedom (LCS-1) conducted “pretty standard patrol” operations in the South China Sea under orders from the U.S. 7th Fleet based in Japan, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman told reporters during a Monday conference calls.

“They won’t be writing a book about it 30 years from now,”Copeman said.
It was: “presence; it’s showing the flag; common operational picture; flight ops, 11 meter [boat operations].”

Copeman did not go into details of the missions but revelation of the operations changes perception of the deployment — which was billed as consisting of mostly training missions and international cooperation exercises.

Overall Copeman billed the ten-month deployment to Singapore as a success, despite several high profile systems problems during the first time deployment.

“I don’t agree the deployment was characterized by a series of breakdowns,” Copeman said.
“This is a research and development platform we took a pretty significant risk with”

In July, Freedom lost propulsion due to a problem with two of the ship’s four Isotta Fraschini V1708 diesel electrical generators that overheated and shutdown that required the ship to return to port.

Its first significant underway in May from was cut short due to lube oil problems that caused the ship to return to port.

In October, the crew found three feet of water in the ship’s bilge due to a broken seawater pipe.

“While the ship was deployed for ten months, it was available for 70 percent of the time for the operational commander, which is on par with most other ship in the fleet for forward deployed,” Copeman said.

The Navy and Lockheed Martin have already made design changes in follow on ships of the Freedom-class to improve the diesel generators and the cooling systems.

“Between LCS-1 and LCS-5 [Milwaukee] there’s been a redesign of the ship’s service diesel generators, redesign of the main reduction gear coolers which proved problematic,” Copeman said.

Copeman also said the addition of ten sailors to both versions of LCS core crew of 40 would be a permanent addition to the ship’s compliment.

“Fatigue has been a problem on the ship in the past and [the additional crew] worked out pretty well for us,” Copeman said.

The next LCS deployment is scheduled later in 2014 with the second Freedom- class ship— USS Fort Worth (LCS-3).

“It’s going to be 16 months. There’s going to be significantly more crew turnover than during Freedom’s deployment,” Copeman said.

During Freedom’s deployment, the crew was swapped at the halfway point as a test of the LCS manning scheme that would assign two ships a rotation of three crews for forward deployed ships.

The other LCS ship class, Independence (LCS-2), won’t be ready for deployment until after it completes testing and evaluating the mine countermeasure (MCM) for both classes of ships sometime in 2015.

  • James Brown

    Just wait until the LCS’s get into a shooting war. There is a reason NAVSEA rated it as not survivable in a hostile atmosphere. One hit from a mine, a torpedo or a missile and that ship will sink. There are just not enough crew members to be able to sustain and fight the ship after it gets hit. Also the aluminum superstructure was a big mistake. The navy has had terrible experiences with burning aluminum superstructures in the past. Unfortunately many lessons learned in the past have been forgotten by deploying this floating death trap.

    • TheTruth

      You’re not going to see an LCS going toe to toe with any combatants beyond a small boat, i.e. Iranian Boghammer. As for the aluminum superstructure, again, it isn’t planned to take on weapons fire beyond small caliber. The “C” in its designator is a slight misnomer since a lot of us ignore the “L”, littoral, meaning shallow water. The ship will serve its purpose and it will take time to overcome the fact that it’s more or less a support vessel.

      • James Brown

        The key words in your statement are “it isn’t planned to take on weapons fire beyond small caliber”, but in a shooting war it most certainly will have to absorb hits from more than small caliber ordinance, The enemy will not go along with the plan,of that you can be sure. If a shooting war starts these boats will end up being known as the widow makers. They are crap, I helped build them in Marinette and you sound just like one of the Naval architects that kept telling me that I just didn’t understand, that they’re designed to not let any missiles bleed through, that they wont ever have to absorb real punishment. They will not survive combat, even NAVSEA and the POGO people have realized that. Remember this, the most important adage in any kind of warfare, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”. All the lessons learned through the last many decades have been flushed down the toilet with the LCS, unfortunately many fine sailors will pay in blood to relearn them.

        • JohnJubly

          Has POGO ever seen a defense project they didn’t think should be cancelled?

          INS Eilat has an aluminum superstructure and survived a hit from the type of antiship missile most likely to be fired at an LCS. Really I wouldn’t want to be on *any* ship hit by a 160 kg kilogram warhead traveling at mach 0.9. With a ship that size I don’t think it would matter if it was made of titanium.