(MILITARY TIMES) SAN DIEGO — Freedom, the Navy’s first littoral combat ship, will go operational early next year “to close urgent warfighting gaps,” with orders to deploy to the U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Pacific Command regions, officials announced Tuesday.
The ship’s maiden operational deployment originally was scheduled for 2012.
“Deploying LCS now is a big step forward in getting this ship where it needs to be – operating in the increasingly important littoral regions,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said in the statement. “We must deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now.”
The Lockheed Martin-built Freedom, the first of two LCS ships, recently completed an “Industrial Post Delivery Availability 2” period after officials adjusted its schedule to accommodate the earlier deployment.
By deploying Freedom early, officials hope to fill littoral gaps “not previously seen in the modern cruiser or destroyer fleet,” officials said in the announcement.
“The sooner we integrate them into our fleet, the sooner we can incorporate them in the order of battle,” Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr., U.S. Fleet Forces commander, said in the statement. “This deployment offers a golden opportunity to learn by doing. Employing the USS Freedom in theater two years ahead of a normal timeline allows us to incorporate lessons that can only be learned in a deployment setting more quickly and effectively in the LCS fleet integration process.”