Two Littoral Combat Ships to Deploy to Singapore Next Year, Four by 2017

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) in the Java Sea on Jan. 7, 2014. US Navy Photo

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The U.S. Navy will begin a permanent presence of two Littoral Combat Ships in Singapore next year with four planned to be forward deployed and based at the Changi Naval Base by 2017, service officials told USNI News on Friday.

The service didn’t offer any additional details on which variants were to be included in the deployment or which missions packages they would field.

Following the return of Lockheed Martin Freedom-variant LCS USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) — currently operating from Singapore — the follow-on LCS would travel to Changi with the second to join it shortly thereafter.

The 2016 timeline was first reported on Thursday by Jane’s Defence Weekly.

Rear Adm. Charles Williams — commander of Combined Task Force 73 — told the magazine the Navy plans to eventually deploy two of each variant of LCS in Singapore.

In particular, Williams told Jane’s the Austal USA Independence-class LCS aviation capabilities will be valuable for the region.

“It is the largest flight deck on any of our ships short of the aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships,” he said.

The ships will still continue under the so-called 3-2-1 deployment plan in which three crews of will man two ships with one of those ships forward deployed at any given time.

“Under the 3-2-1 plan, baseline LCSs are to be deployed for 16 months at a time, and crews are maintain a greater percentage of the baseline LCS force in deployed status at any given time than would be possible under the traditional approach of maintaining one crew for each baseline LCS and deploying baseline LCSs for six to eight months at a time, “read a recent Congressional Research Service report on LCS.

Almost at the halfway point of the 16 month deployment, Fort Worth has had less setbacks than the USS Freedom (LCS-1) with fewer complications and casualty reports (CASREPS).

“As challenging as Freedom was, Fort Worth has just been phenomenal,” Naval Sea Systems Command’s Program Executive Officer for LCS told USNI News in April.

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