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Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth in Singapore for long stay

USS Fort Worth, the US Navy's third littoral combat ship, arrived in Singapore's Changi Naval Base on December 29 for a 16-month deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.

Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth in Singapore for long stay

USS Fort Worth, the US Navy's third littoral combat ship, arrived in Singapore's Changi Naval Base on December 29 for a 16-month deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.

Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth in Singapore for long stay
07 January 2015 - 22:33

Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth in Singapore for long stay

USS Fort Worth, the US Navy's third littoral combat ship, arrived in Singapore's Changi Naval Base on December 29 for a 16-month deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.

This signals the beginning of a continuous littoral combat ship presence, building on what the American navy considers to be the USS Freedom's 10-month deployment in 2013, reports IHS Jane's 360.

This was seen as a proof of the concept for littoral combat ship operations with up to four American littoral combat ships are expected to be based in Singapore by 2017, said the report. 

The Fort Worth will test new concepts and capabilities, including a four-month crew rotation and a composite rotary aviation squadron with an MQ-8B Fire Scout drone.

After leaving San Diego, the ship arrived in Singapore after making its first south east Asian port call in Jakarta on December 22. 

Earlier, it conducted a range of surface operations including underway and vertical replenishment with the USNS Wally Schirra , as well as flight exercises with its embarked MQ-8B Fire Scout drone.

"Our regional partners were very excited to work with the ship," said US Rear Admiral Charles Williams, ranking American naval officer in the region.

"When we think about the frigates, corvettes, and OPVs [offshore patrol vessels] that our partners operate, the littoral combat ship is really nicely scaled to work alongside those ships."

Admiral William said the big difference would be a more constant presence. "It's not about just being here in the Asia Pacific, but being operational," he said.

No mention was made in the report about any challenge to China and its building of new oil rilling islands in the disputed Spratlys area, or its claims of virtual sovereignty over the entire South China Sea. 

Such claims are disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia,Taiwan and Burnei. Beijing ignores this, relying on an ancient claim to waters it has not controlled for centuries if ever.

The US Navy declined to say much about initial operations, except that it would be heavily involved in the annual bilateral Co-operation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with south and southeast Asian navies, as well as participate in Foal Eagle 2015 with the Republic of Korea Navy. 

IHS Jane's earlier reported that the 3,450-ton (displacement fully loaded) with a four-metre draft will likely test its mine countermeasure capabilities in northeast Asian waters, as well as test new amphibious delivery methods with the US Marine Corps. It's top speed is 45 knots or 52 mph or 83 kph.

Besides its 57 mm main gun and Raytheon RIM-116 21-cell rolling airframe missile (RAM) launcher and two Mk 46 Mod 2 Bushmaster 30mm guns, the Fort Worth is fitted with the surface warfare (SuW) mission package, complete with boarding parties and two 11-metre rigid-hull inflatable boats.

The vessel also embarks an aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 35, which is equipped with one Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one Northrop Grumman MQ-8B UAV.

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