Fort Worth Completes South China Sea Patrol
Fort Worth Completes South China Sea Patrol
By Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, Destroyer Squadron 7 Public
Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines – (NNS)
– December 5, 2015 – Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) arrived here to resupply May 13
after a weeklong routine patrol in international waters and airspace of the
South China Sea near the Spratly Islands.
While Fort Worth has transited the South China Sea many times, this patrol marks
the first time an LCS has operated in international waters near the Spratlys.
"As part of our strategic rebalance to bring our newest and most capable Navy
platforms to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, LCS now has a regular presence in Southeast
Asia," said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7.
"Routine operations like the one Fort Worth just completed in the South China
Sea will be the new normal as we welcome four LCSs to the region in the coming
years. Deployment of multiple LCSs to Southeast Asia underscores the importance
of this 'region on the rise' and the value persistent presence brings."
USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) conducts patrols near the Spratly Islands
Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy to U.S. 7th Fleet as part of an
initiative to simultaneously deploy up to four LCS to the Indo-Asia-Pacific
region in just a few years. The third and fourth LCSs are planned to arrive in
2016, when the region will see two of these ships deployed at the same time.
Fort Worth is also the first LCS to deploy under the "3-2-1" manning concept,
which allows LCS to sustain a 16-month rotational presence without fatiguing the
crew during the extended deployment, which is twice as long as typical U.S. Navy
ship deployments. It is named 3-2-1 because three rotational crews will support
two LCS ships, one of which is deployed. Future LCS deployments to the region
will employ this concept, allowing for enhanced U.S. Navy presence throughout
While operating in international waters and airspace near the Spratly's, Fort
Worth conducted flight operations with its MH-60R Seahawk helicopter.
"Just like our first meeting in February with a PLA(N) warship, guided-missile
frigate Hengshui (FFG 572), our interactions with Chinese ships continue to be
professional and CUES helps clarify intentions and prevent miscommunication,"
said Cmdr. Matt Kawas, Fort Worth Crew 103 commanding officer.
Following the brief stop for fuel in the Philippines, Fort Worth will return to
Singapore for the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference
(IMDEX) 2015 just ahead of the second crew swap in late May.
Throughout the summer and fall, Fort Worth will take part in most of the 2015
CARAT exercise series. In its 21st year, CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise
series with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine
partner nations including, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia,
the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
During February and March, Fort Worth participated in the annual U.S.-Republic
of Korea exercise Foal Eagle and conducted a maintenance availability in Sasebo,
Japan, expanding LCS' operational reach to Northeast Asia for the first time.
Following the availability, Fort Worth returned to Southeast Asia where she took
part in the sixth-annual Naval Engagement (NEA) Vietnam with the Vietnam
People's Navy (VPN) in April, spending a day operating at-sea with the VPN.
"We've made great strides in terms of LCS' operational potential in a short
period of time," said Kacher. "With the regular and routine presence of LCS here,
we are far better able to spend the time and resources required to build
regional maritime capacity, helping to achieve the 'Network of Navies' outlined
in the Navy's newly-released maritime strategy."
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.
Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare (SUW) mission package for her entire
deployment, augmenting her 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with
two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, and two six-member
maritime security boarding teams. Enhancing the SUW mission package is the
embarked aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 35, the
Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, which consists of one
Sea Hawk helicopter and one Fire Scout.
The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S.
national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S.
Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime
nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability
and prevent conflict.