LCS 1 Headed to Philippines to Provide Relief

LCS FreedomThe Navy’s first Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Freedom, is on its way to the Philippines to assist the relief effort and bring supplies to the typhoon-ravaged areas, service officials said.

The move marks the first disaster relief mission for the USS Freedom, the first-in-class of a planned fleet of LCS shallow-water, multi-mission ships under development by the Navy.

“Like other U.S. Navy ships supporting Operation Damayan, Freedom’s MH-60R helicopter is one of her most important [relief] assets. Freedom also carries ten pallets of [relief] supplies, including five pallets of hygienic supplies and five pallets of medical supplies,” a Navy statement said.

The USS Freedom arrived in Asia this past April and conducted various port visits in Singapore and Guam in support of the Navy’s Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy. In fact, the service plans to deploy as many as four LCS ships through Singapore as part of a broader effort to sustain a forward presence in the region, Navy officials said.

Rotational deployments of littoral combat ships will help the Navy sustain presence, expand access to vital waterways, and interact with littoral regions, a Navy official said.

“Since arriving in Southeast Asia in April, Freedom has worked with many regional navies that operate comparable-sized ships during a series of port visits, exercises, and exchanges,” a Navy statement said.

Although the USS Freedom in configured with a surface warfare mission package and is not configured for humanitarian missions, the ship does have assets and technologies able to contribute to Operation Damayan, Navy officials said.

For instance, the Freedom’s shallow water capability will allow helicopters faster access to land for the purpose of delivering supplies to typhoon-damaged areas.

“Operating offshore, the Navy is uniquely suited to provide support during disasters, and USS Freedom is just one piece of the larger Navy relief effort ongoing in coordination with the government of the Philippines,” said Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, a Navy spokeswoman.

The USS Freedom has faced maintenance issues since first being deployed to Asia, Navy officials said. A cable designed to give the ship operator input regarding the angle or direction of the water jets wound up getting corroded, temporarily causing problems with the directional capabilities of the ship, a source familiar with LCS said.  The part was fixed in Singapore a few weeks ago, the source said.

Also, the ship experienced problems with the ship service diesel generators, or SSDGs, which caused a temporary power outage during a trip to Guam this past summer.

The Navy’s Acquisition Executive, Sean Stackley, acknowledge the problem when speaking to a Congressional subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces this past summer.

In October of this year, a burst pipe caused three feet of water to flood the bilge area of the ship as well.

Officials familiar with the LCS program say many fixes have been put in place to address these problems and some maintenance challenges are expected and even routine for a “first-in-class” such as the LCS. Furthermore, LCS proponents explain that many of the “fixes” and adjustments made in response to these problems will inform the development and construction of subsequent LCS ships.

“These concerns are typical of Navy ships and happen over the course of deployments all the time,” said a source familiar with the LCS program.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior and a former associate editor at Military.com.

15 Comments on "LCS 1 Headed to Philippines to Provide Relief"

  1. as if it can actually sail that far without breaking…..

  2. I'm late, I'm late…!

  3. Oustanding. They finally found a mission that LCS can excel at; disaster relief.

    Now, if we could only build some warships…

  4. Only 20 pallets? I thought it could carry more than that-

  5. Are they sure it can make it there?

  6. Poor LCS. Ship in search of a mission.

  7. The Freedom is being sent home anyway, and the Philippines happen to be on her way.

    This is a pretty expensive way to move a mere 10 pallets, and once she's fueled up she'll probably be on her way home again. One chopper, while useful, pales compared to the LSD's that should've arrived by now.

    Hopefully, she'll get there without breaking anything major.

    The navy should probably cancel this woebegone project – the sea-frame is built to only slightly better than commercial standards, which makes LCS a lousy weapons platform. And at $400M per copy (without mission packages), it's a very expensive mistake.

  8. "For instance, the Freedom’s shallow water capability will allow helicopters faster access to land for the purpose of delivering supplies to typhoon-damaged areas."

    Meaning what? An LCS can't carry all that much-is the plan to intermediate stage stuff on the LCS? LCS might make more sense combined with some army transportation lighters to unload in bulk to coastal areas…helicopters should be reserved for medical evacuation and distribution of supplies to inland areas that are more difficult to reach from the coast. That said, most people are likely living near the coast, especially if they are fishermen.

  9. how many vending machines does it carry…? I like "Ho-Ho's" and "Coca-Cola". will it have that…?

  10. Putting on my has been ammo nco hat for a moment, 10 pallets is less than 2 deuce and a half loads (typically can carry 6 pallets per). Now granted the helicopter is handy and the brass would dearly love to get some favorable LCS publicity. Perhaps send it snooping and pooping in the littorals and seek out itty bitty islands in the impact area…

  11. "Standby to engage the typhoon relief module, oh wait, that module is on the USS Independence!"

  12. I'm relieved that Little Crappy Ship is no longer in our way.

  13. Ten pallets of food only? Well shows it worthless now for both disaster relief and combat now.

  14. Is that where she is due to break down again?

  15. The sad thing about the typhoon disaster is that the entire world knew it was going to be the worst storm ever and almost no one starting getting ready for disaster relief until it actually hapened.

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