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A US Navy littoral combat ship is finally operating in the Middle East

USS Sioux City
Illustration: US Navy file photo of USS Sioux City on an earlier deployment

USS Sioux City (LCS 11) arrived in the US 5th Fleet area of operations on May 28, becoming the first littoral combat ship to deploy to the Middle East.

Even though the first Freedom-variant LCS entered service in 2008, Sioux City is the first of its class to sail the Red Sea, having deployed from Mayport, Florida in April.

Sioux City is operating in support of a newly established multinational task force, Combined Task Force (CTF) 153, focused on maritime security and partner capacity building in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden, the navy said.

While the navy has spent a long time saying that these ships would be ideal for operations in the waters of the Middle East, it is now on a path of decommissioning the ships. USS Freedom was retired in September 2021 after just 13 years of service.

“We’re excited to welcome a littoral combat ship to the Middle East for the first time,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “Sioux City’s arrival is not only historic but essential to regional maritime security given its immediate integration with our new multinational naval task force.”

CTF 153 is one of four multinational task forces organized under Combined Maritime Forces, the largest international naval partnership with 34 nations. Led by the United States, Combined Maritime Forces is headquartered in Bahrain with US 5th Fleet.

Last year, Sioux City operated in the Caribbean Sea where it seized 600 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $24 million from drug traffickers in April. In October, the ship seized nearly 500 kilograms of cocaine worth $20 million in the Caribbean.

“We’re thrilled to have Sioux City join our team,” said Capt. Robert Francis, commander of CTF 153. “They’ve worked collaboratively in bringing enhanced capabilities to other regions and that’s certainly what we’re looking forward to here in the Middle East while operating with our international partners.”

Sioux City achieved another milestone in early May, becoming the first in its class to undertake an operational deployment to the US 6th Fleet.