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Thursday, November 13, 2014, 13:09

US Navy to deploy warship long term in Asia

By Reuters

 US Navy to deploy warship long term in Asia
This photograph made available on April 18, 2013 by ZaoBao newspaper shows the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) as it arrives at Changi Naval Base in Singapore during an eight-month deployment to Southeast Asia. AFP PHOTO / ZAOBAO

SAN DIEGO - An upcoming 16-month deployment of the USS Fort Worth, a new coastal warship built by Lockheed Martin Corp, kicks off a new strategy by the US Navy that it says will save money and help maintain a presence overseas despite tighter budgets.

Captain Randy Garner, Commodore of Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Squadron One, said the Navy planned to have three crews for every two Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), rotating them onto the ships every four months, a big reduction from current staffing levels that allow crews to remain with their ships.

"It's all about giving flexibility to the forward commander, based on how much money we have," Garner told Reuters at his office after a tour of the ship, which is due to leave on Monday for Singapore and the Pacific region.

"It's an amazing return on the shipbuilding dollar for us, versus what we've done in the past," he said. The Navy plans to have four LCS ships operating out of Singapore by around 2018.

Garner already oversees four LCS ships in San Diego, with four more due to arrive over the next year or so. He said the new ships were meeting key milestones despite concerns raised by technical challenges that arose during last year's deployment of the first LCS ship, USS Freedom, to Asia.

In September, all four LCS ships went to sea at the same time, with three carrying different mission packages and a fourth testing a new long-range missile developed by Norway's Kongsberg Gruppen, he said.



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