U.S. Navy strategy for long warship
deployment starts in Asia
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[November 13, 2014]
SAN DIEGO Calif. (Reuters) - 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
U.S. 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.
"Itís 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.
"Itís an amazing return on the shipbuilding dollar for us, versus
what weíve 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.
Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who stands poised to
head the Senate Armed Services Committee, and others seized on an
April report in which the Government Accountability Office
questioned the ships' ability to survive attacks at sea.
The Pentagon is reviewing Navy recommendations on whether to upgrade
the ships, modify them or switch to a different design. The
decisions will be part of the fiscal 2016 budget request.
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Garner said the Navy learned important lessons from Freedom's
deployment but said every other new ship program had similar
He said the program successfully completed testing of the surface
warfare equipment this summer, and Fort Worth and its core crew aced
a survivability test last month in which they fought five
simultaneous fires for over 90 minutes.
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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