LCS 1 Headed to Philippines to Provide Relief

The Navy’s first Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Freedom, is on its way to the Philippines to assist the relief effort and bring supplies to the typhoon-ravaged areas, service officials said.

The move marks the first disaster relief mission for the USS Freedom, the first-in-class of a planned fleet of LCS shallow-water, multi-mission ships under development by the Navy.

“Like other U.S. Navy ships supporting Operation Damayan, Freedom’s MH-60R helicopter is one of her most important [relief] assets. Freedom also carries ten pallets of [relief] supplies, including five pallets of hygienic supplies and five pallets of medical supplies,” a Navy statement said.

The USS Freedom arrived in Asia this past April and conducted various port visits in Singapore and Guam in support of the Navy’s Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy. In fact, the service plans to deploy as many as four LCS ships through Singapore as part of a broader effort to sustain a forward presence in the region, Navy officials said.

Rotational deployments of littoral combat ships will help the Navy sustain presence, expand access to vital waterways, and interact with littoral regions, a Navy official said.

“Since arriving in Southeast Asia in April, Freedom has worked with many regional navies that operate comparable-sized ships during a series of port visits, exercises, and exchanges,” a Navy statement said.

Although the USS Freedom in configured with a surface warfare mission package and is not configured for humanitarian missions, the ship does have assets and technologies able to contribute to Operation Damayan, Navy officials said.

For instance, the Freedom’s shallow water capability will allow helicopters faster access to land for the purpose of delivering supplies to typhoon-damaged areas.

“Operating offshore, the Navy is uniquely suited to provide support during disasters, and USS Freedom is just one piece of the larger Navy relief effort ongoing in coordination with the government of the Philippines,” said Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, a Navy spokeswoman.

The USS Freedom has faced maintenance issues since first being deployed to Asia, Navy officials said. A cable designed to give the ship operator input regarding the angle or direction of the water jets wound up getting corroded, temporarily causing problems with the directional capabilities of the ship, a source familiar with LCS said.  The part was fixed in Singapore a few weeks ago, the source said.

Also, the ship experienced problems with the ship service diesel generators, or SSDGs, which caused a temporary power outage during a trip to Guam this past summer.

The Navy’s Acquisition Executive, Sean Stackley, acknowledge the problem when speaking to a Congressional subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces this past summer.

In October of this year, a burst pipe caused three feet of water to flood the bilge area of the ship as well.

Officials familiar with the LCS program say many fixes have been put in place to address these problems and some maintenance challenges are expected and even routine for a “first-in-class” such as the LCS. Furthermore, LCS proponents explain that many of the “fixes” and adjustments made in response to these problems will inform the development and construction of subsequent LCS ships.

“These concerns are typical of Navy ships and happen over the course of deployments all the time,” said a source familiar with the LCS program.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Big-Dean

    as if it can actually sail that far without breaking…..

  • blight_

    I’m late, I’m late…!

  • Talosian

    Oustanding. They finally found a mission that LCS can excel at; disaster relief.

    Now, if we could only build some warships…

    • STemplar
      • BlackOwl18E

        That was the laugh I needed for today.

    • Big-B

      Haha i was just about to write that myself :-) Finally a mission for the LCS: To deliver 10 pallets of food and water. And nobody will see the LCS as a threat, the perfect ship for diplomatic duty.

    • blight_

      Littoral Compassion Ship?

      Doesn’t sound right.

      • John Fourquet

        I still like little crappy ship.

        • blight_

          Little Cargo Ship?

    • blight_

      Indeed, some FSF-1 for the modules and LCS MMC for “surface warfare” would do the job nicely.

  • Mastro

    Only 20 pallets? I thought it could carry more than that-

    • dr. agreeable

      Uh, ten.

      • Chris

        Makes the cost of the trip worthwhile, doesn’t it?

    • blight_

      “Freedom also carries ten pallets of [relief] supplies, including five pallets of hygienic supplies and five pallets of medical supplies,”

      Does this mean 10+5+5? Or 10 pallets of supplies, five of which are hygenic and five of medical? Upon re-read, I am inclined to think it’s the first case (10+5+5). Without the brackets, the verbatim quote is ten pallets of supplies, *including* five pallets of hygenic supplies and five pallets of medical supplies.

      20 pallets isn’t small, but for a ship of its class, it doesn’t sound like much.

      • guest

        10 not 20 the word including makes the difference. Please re-re-read.

        • blight_

          The full statement is on globalsecurity.…

          “Freedom’s MH-60R helicopter is one of her most important HA/DR assets. Freedom also carries ten pallets of HA/DR supplies, including five pallets of hygienic supplies and five pallets of medical supplies.”

          Since we must resort to the dictionary:

          Definition of including (prep)
          Bing Dictionary
          in·clud·ing[ in klding ]
          1. included in group or whole: used to introduce examples of people or things forming part of a particular group or whole
          2. and in addition: as well as

          The first definition supports the ten pallet theory. The second definition supports the twenty pallet theory. The first definition appears to be the favored definition of multiple dictionaries.

          The Navy could have saved wordcount by simply stating: “Freedom also carries five pallets of hygienic supplies and five pallets of medical supplies.”

  • sean

    Are they sure it can make it there?

  • Hunter76

    Poor LCS. Ship in search of a mission.

  • PolicyWonk

    The Freedom is being sent home anyway, and the Philippines happen to be on her way.

    This is a pretty expensive way to move a mere 10 pallets, and once she’s fueled up she’ll probably be on her way home again. One chopper, while useful, pales compared to the LSD’s that should’ve arrived by now.

    Hopefully, she’ll get there without breaking anything major.

    The navy should probably cancel this woebegone project - the sea-frame is built to only slightly better than commercial standards, which makes LCS a lousy weapons platform. And at $400M per copy (without mission packages), it’s a very expensive mistake.

    • blight_

      This is indeed an expensive way to move ten pallets. I am not sure why they cannot send more: perhaps it is because the SW modules are eating into cargo bay space.

      At least they aren’t even going to /try/ to remove the modules…we all know rapid plug-and-play to free up room is dead.

      Next will be a humanitarian relief module. We’re okay. The modules will take care of us! (Along with an icebreaker module for arctic ops)

  • blight_

    “For instance, the Freedom’s shallow water capability will allow helicopters faster access to land for the purpose of delivering supplies to typhoon-damaged areas.”

    Meaning what? An LCS can’t carry all that much-is the plan to intermediate stage stuff on the LCS? LCS might make more sense combined with some army transportation lighters to unload in bulk to coastal areas…helicopters should be reserved for medical evacuation and distribution of supplies to inland areas that are more difficult to reach from the coast. That said, most people are likely living near the coast, especially if they are fishermen.

    • PolicyWonk

      The quote you have is (on the part of whoever said it) is kind of sad. The 2 LSD (Landing Ship Dock) amphibs they sent both have choppers, LCACs, and other amphibious vehicles - which far outweigh any purely incremental aid an LCS can provide.

      The only other kind of ship that would be possibly more useful than one of our amphibs would be something like the USNS Montford Point - one of the new sea-basing ships (not ready until 2015). This would be an ideal test for one of those.

      BTW - Love the idea of the Ice Breaker mission package for LCS… Gave me my first good laugh of the day!

      • blight_…

        All the Navy says is “Like other U.S. Navy ships supporting Operation Damayan, Freedom’s MH-60R helicopter is one of her most important HA/DR assets.”

        Which kind of pulls down other Navy ships who are there for “HA/DR”. Larger ships carry more stuff. CVN’s can provide clean water, which in turn prevents cholera from spreading. They can probably provide hospital services too, not just the helicopter.

        However, ships like the DDG’s and CG’s that will be with the carrier can’t do a whole lot either. They do their jobs quite nicely though: protecting the carrier and blowing up stuff on land, air and sea.

        • PolicyWonk

          In short - the very best the navy has when it comes to disaster relief are the assets of the amphibious fleet: LSD’s, LHD’s, etc. The ships that carry the logistical support gear required for a sea-borne invasion (LCACs, landing craft, and other amphibious vehicles, etc.) are uniquely suited for disaster relief operations, while the marines they carry can provide a measure of security.

          • blight_

            More or less. Going ashore to impose security is something Marines have historically done. And it’s probably practice the Marines will need to stay sharp in, especially if we intend to keep Fleet Marines around for the hotspots of the future.

  • mpower6428

    how many vending machines does it carry…? I like “Ho-Ho’s” and “Coca-Cola”. will it have that…?

  • jsallison

    Putting on my has been ammo nco hat for a moment, 10 pallets is less than 2 deuce and a half loads (typically can carry 6 pallets per). Now granted the helicopter is handy and the brass would dearly love to get some favorable LCS publicity. Perhaps send it snooping and pooping in the littorals and seek out itty bitty islands in the impact area…

    • blight_

      It may be a reasonably effective shuttle, if paired up with lighters operating from the shore, or Phillippine MC AAAV’s.

      It will probably carry stuff quicker and more cost-effectively than using up precious helicopters. They will prioritize the relief delivery to larger islands; using LCS as a jump-off-point for smaller island relief would work.

      • Mr.T

        You are joking right ,a ferry like JHSV can do that job way more effectively with huge load, i am just waiting for an F35 to start ferrying water or fuel, get in on the PR action…
        ”JHSV can be operated in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on / roll-off discharge facilities and on / off-loading. The stern loading ramp can support a M1A2 Abrams main battle tank.
        The ships can transport 635t of payload for more than 1,200nm at an average speed of 35kt.”

        • blight_

          Precisely! Even the Hawaii Superferrys that the navy bought would be better for the mission.

          “JSF-B aircraft delivered individual bottles of water stored in the cockpit, and dropped drop fuel tanks containing water for Filipino HA/DR operations”


  • Big-Dean

    “Standby to engage the typhoon relief module, oh wait, that module is on the USS Independence!”

  • Dfens

    I’m relieved that Little Crappy Ship is no longer in our way.

    • blight_

      What’s to be relieved about? Something else will break and they can pin it on the “high optempo of disaster relief”. Hooray for positive spin!

      • Dfens

        You are scaring me…

        • blight_

          No worries, we’ll build disaster relief modules. Disaster Relief drones will accompany the LCS…each carrying ten pallets of supplies. This will allow a “quadrupling of the LCS HA/DR capability”.

  • Lance

    Ten pallets of food only? Well shows it worthless now for both disaster relief and combat now.

  • Phil Mason

    Is that where she is due to break down again?

  • benny

    The sad thing about the typhoon disaster is that the entire world knew it was going to be the worst storm ever and almost no one starting getting ready for disaster relief until it actually hapened.

    • blight_

      Disaster relief’s expensive. I am betting the Navy started quietly cancelling shore leaves, and probably cut orders to put ships to sea. You never know if a fast-moving typhoon may fart in your general direction, and being hit at port is no fun.

      Also, I suspect a lot of people weren’t sure which part of the Phillippines would get hit. If everyone anticipated that place A would be hit and place B was the pre-position area and got hit instead, you’d lose quite a bit of relief supplies that don’t grow on trees. It also takes days to put together aid packages and more time to transit.