06 May 2015

USS Fort Worth restocks, refuels in Subic

The USS Fort Worth, the United States' Littoral Combat ship (LCS 3), stopped at Subic Bay last Monday, May 4 to resupply and refuel, the US Embassy in Manila said Tuesday.

It was the first stop in the Philippines for USS Fort Worth, on its maiden 16-month rotational deployment to support the Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance, the embassy said.

“While this is a brief visit for Fort Worth, the ship will return to the Philippines later this summer to participate in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2015 with the Republic of Philippines Navy,” said Cmdr. Matthew Kawas, Fort Worth Crew 103 commanding officer.

After the refueling, USS Fort Worth will continue its routine operations in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

USS Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy to 7th Fleet as part of an initiative to deploy up to four LCS in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by 2018, the embassy said.

It said the third and fourth LCS deployments are planned in 2016.

"Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare," the embassy said.

It added the Fort Worth will use surface warfare (SUW) mission package for its entire deployment, augmenting a 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, and two six-member maritime security boarding teams.

USS Fort Worth will also have an embarked aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, which consists of one MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system.

The Fire Scout complements the MH-60R by extending the HSM-35's range and endurance, enhancing maritime domain awareness.

CARAT exercises

Meanwhile, the embassy said USS Fort Worth will conduct routine patrols in the 7th Fleet area of operations before it returns to Singapore for the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) 2015.

During the summer and fall, USS Fort Worth will take part in most of the 2015 CARAT exercise series.

CARAT is an annual series of bilateral exercises involving the US Navy, Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste. (Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News)

USS Navy's Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth. (Agence France-Presse)