Home Americas US Navy retires third of its brand new littoral combat ships

US Navy retires third of its brand new littoral combat ships

USS Coronado decommissioning
Capt. Marc Crawford, center, commodore of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron ONE, gives the order to decommission Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) during a decommissioning ceremony, Sept. 14. Photo: US Navy

Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) became the third ship of its class to decommission, as part of a US Navy plan the ships after just a decade of service.

Coronado bowed out of service in a ceremony in San Diego, on September 14, after a little over eight years of service.

As on operational unit, Coronado served as a test and training ship, playing an important role in determining the operational configuration and deployment capabilities of today’s LCS platform.

The ship also worked alongside allied and partner nations while on a 14-month rotational deployment to the Indo-Pacific in 2017, including inaugural port visits to Cam Ranh, Vietnam and Lamut, Malaysia. While deployed, Coronado supported presence operations and maritime security operations to include the advancement of the LCS manned-unmanned teaming concepts through successful targeting exercises with an embarked MQ-8B Fire Scout.

In addition to Coronado, the navy plans to retire nine ships in the class in fiscal year, should legislators give their approval.

The service’s retirement plans follow the retirement of the first two LCS in 2021. The ships have been plagued by problems ever since they started entering service, with two major problems being the combining gear issues that prevented Freedom-variant units from reaching their maximum speeds in addition to seeing them break down often and prompting the navy to halt deliveries of new ships in 2021 until the problem is fixed. The second major problem are the delays in the development of mission packages that were envisioned as allowing the ships to perform either mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare missions.

“Today we recognize the great contribution Coronado and its crew made in developing the operational concepts foundational to the current configuration and deployment of littoral combat ships,” said Rear Adm. Wayne Baze, the ceremony’s guest speaker and commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3. “Thanks to Coronado, the future of LCS looks bright.”

USS Coronado returning to homeport in June 2022. Photo: US Navy

Built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, Coronado was commissioned April 5, 2014, at Naval Air Station North Island. The ship deployed to US 7th Fleet, integrated with a carrier strike group, performed exercises with partner navies and conducted joint maneuvers with other US Navy warships. Upon decommissioning, Coronado will be designated as Out of Commission, In Reserve (OCIR) asset, and its sailors will receive follow-on orders to new assignments.

The first USS Coronado (PF 38) served in World War II and was decommissioned in 1945. The second USS Coronado (AGF 11) served in US 2nd, 5th and 6th Fleets and as the flagship for Commander, US 3rd Fleet. The second Coronado was decommissioned in 2006 and sunk during Exercise Valiant Shield in 2012.