In Singapore, LCS offers a chance for navies to share experiences (Straits Times)
Source: United States Navy Pacific Fleet
Headline: In Singapore, LCS offers a chance for navies to share experiences (Straits Times)
While they are deployed here primarily to enhance stability in the region, the US Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) vessels are also a source of interest for other navies, such as Singapore’s, which also equip their fleets with equivalent vessels offering the same versatility and ability to operate in shallow waters.
The first LCS vessels deployed by the US Navy to Singapore were the Freedom-class USS Freedom in 2013, and then the USS Fort Worth a year later.
Last October, the US Navy’s first Independence-class LCS, the USS Coronado, arrived in Singapore.
Its commanding officer, Commander Scott Larson, told The Straits Times on Wednesday that there were many mutual learning opportunities with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
“If we can learn from the Singaporeans and their experiences with their littoral combat ships, and they can learn from us… that’s a win,” said Cdr Larson in an interview during a tour of the ship.
In November, Cdr Larson also hosted Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on a tour aboard the USS Coronado.
The Harpoon missile launchers (above) on the USS Coronado at Changi Naval Base on Wednesday. Last July, the USS Coronado test-fired a Harpoon over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile during the Rim of the Pacific exercises held near Hawaii. The USS Coronado is the US Navy’s first Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS) and it arrived in Singapore last October. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
While Singapore’s littoral mission vessel (LMV) is smaller than the USS Coronado, and can operate with a baseline crew of 23, versus the Coronado’s 50, both are designed to be adaptable to a variety of missions, and can operate in the littoral zone, or close to shore.
The RSN launched its fourth LMV, the LMV Justice, last month. The first three LMVs – the Independence, Sovereignty and Unity – are undergoing sea trials, and the RSN expects to commission the Independence next month.
Like the LMVs, the USS Coronado can carry a helicopter and can be easily configured for different operations. Cdr Larson said his vessel has a mission bay of 15,200 sq ft and is able to accommodate a range of cargo, from containers to rigid- hulled inflatable boats. This is more than twice the 6,400 sq ft mission bay of the Freedom-class LCS.
The US Navy, however, is looking to further arm its LCS, on top of its ship guns and anti-missile defence systems.
Last July, the USS Coronado test-fired a Harpoon over-the- horizon, anti-ship missile during the Rim of the Pacific exercises held near Hawaii. This was the first time such an armament was fired from the Independence-class LCS, to test its impact on the ship’s structure.
The USS Coronado sets the foundation for the simultaneous deployment of more LCS vessels to Singapore from next year. Under an agreement between both countries, up to four LCS vessels can be deployed at a time.
When the USS Coronado first arrived here, it required 15 days at base for it to be maintained between sailings. This has been shaved down to just four days.
Cdr Larson said it was about “thinking ahead of the problem” – figuring out which were the high-failure parts, and having parts and replacements readily available.
Since it was deployed to Singapore, the USS Coronado has conducted routine patrols in the Sulu and South China seas, trained with the Royal Brunei Navy, and taken part in the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition which took place last month.