In a historic moment for the US Navy’s European and African area of operations, a Freedom-variant littoral combat ship is on an operational deployment to the US Sixth Fleet.
USS Sioux City (LCS 11), which entered service in 2018, is operating in the 6th Fleet AOR to gain experience in an area littoral combat ships have never before operated, the navy said.
Freedom-variant LCS have so far been focused on counter-narcotics operations in South America, in the US 4th Fleet area of operations, while Independence-variant LCS have been deploying to Asia-Pacific, where they operate for extended periods of time from Singapore’s Changi naval base.
The service had a two-year hiatus in operations from Singapore and USS Jackson (LCS 6) became the first LCS to arrive in Singapore on May 2 since USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) departed in summer 2020.
“Sioux City’s deployment allows us to integrate the LCS’ unique operational capability into our already diverse fleet,” said Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, US Sixth Fleet. “The agility of littoral combat ships allows them to operate in both near-shore and open-ocean environments, enhancing our ability to provide security and stability across the European theater.”
The ship’s size, speed, and agility allows it to perform maritime security operations, theater security cooperation engagements, and freedom of navigation patrols – keeping critical maritime commerce routes open, deterring conflict and coercion, and providing a comparable ship to strengthen partnerships with other countries.
The ship’s motto is ‘Forging a new frontier,’ and according to Cmdr. Scott Whitworth, Sioux City’s commanding officer, that is exactly what the crew plans to do.
“USS Sioux City is a combat ready warship manned by battle-minded Sailors, who are prepared and equipped to execute any mission we are tasked with,” said Whitworth. “This deployment will expand the relevance of these ships, particularly their ability to relieve larger surface combatants in key surface-mission areas.”
An embarked detachment of two MH-60S Seahawk helicopters from the Sea Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 supports Sioux City’s deployment.