The USS Sioux City (LCS11), a Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, was decommissioned on August 14 at Mayport, Florida.
Manufactured by Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Wisconsin, the USS Sioux City was officially commissioned on November 17, 2018, during a ceremony held at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Having experienced one of the shortest active service durations in the post-World War II history of the US Navy, the ship was decommissioned due to design flaws associated with its class, all within less than five years of operational service.
In the preceding year, the Navy disclosed its plans to retire all nine vessels belonging to the Freedom-class and operating under the LCS variant, with the scheduled retirement set to take place in the fiscal year (FY) 2023.
This strategy resulted in the ships being taken out of service well ahead of their originally projected end-of-service timeline. While the Freedom-variant was initially designed for a 25-year operational period, the ships marked for retirement encompass a range of ages, from under two years to ten years old.
The Freedom-variant has been plagued by problems ever since the ships started entering service, with two major problems being the combining gear issues that prevented 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.
“Though our ship’s service ends today, her legacy does not. For years to come the sailors who served onboard will carry forth lessons learned and career experiences gained,” said Capt. Daniel Reiher, Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Training Facility Atlantic during the decommissioning ceremony.
“As those lessons and experiences are used to forge those that follow us, the legacy of Sioux City will strengthen our Navy for generations to come,” he added.
With four deployments between December 2020 and October 2022, the ship operated in the US Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Fleets, engaged in joint exercises, and played a key role in maritime security and trade flow. Notably, Sioux City was the first LCS to operate in the US Fifth and Sixth Fleets, aiding in counter drug trafficking operations alongside the US Coast Guard.
This April, the US Navy christened and launched the final Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, the future USS Cleveland (LCS 31), marking the conclusion of its Freedom-variant LCS series.