The Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Coronado has arrived at Changi Naval Base in Singapore on October 16 as part of a rotational forward deployment to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations, the U.S. Navy reports.
It is the first time that an Independence-class LCS has been deployed to Southeast Asia. “Coronado, homeported in San Diego, will operate from Singapore as a maintenance hub and exercise with allied and partner navies across the region during her deployment,” according to a U.S. Navy press statement.
The deployment of the USS Coronado follows the rotationally deployment of the LCS Freedom-class variants USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth, the latter of which spent 16 months in Southeast Asia participating in 10 bilateral and multilateral exercises across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“The rotational deployment of littoral combat ships is an important part of our nation’s rebalance efforts to the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” said U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson. “Littoral combat ships are ideal for South and Southeast Asia, easily integrated into exercises and operations in the shallow and congested sealanes, enhancing U.S. presence and deepening ties with allies and partners.”
The USS Coronado is the first LCS to be equipped with an over-the-horizon anti-ship capability. The ship carries four-cell launcher anti-ship missile system, the so-called Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System (AHWCS) capable of firing RGM-84D Harpoon Block 1C missiles. As I noted elsewhere:
On July 19, during RIMPAC, the USS Coronado conducted a live fire test of a Harpoon Block 1C missile aboard the vessel with mixed results (See: “RIMPAC 2016: US Navy Test-Fires Anti-Ship Missile From Littoral Combat Ship”). “The missile was launched from a canister installed on the USS Coronado’s forward deck. Yet, while the launch of the missile was successful, the Harpoon failed to hit its over-the-horizon target,” I reported on July 23.
Furthermore, the ship is outfitted with a so-called Surface Warfare mission package including two rigid hull inflatable boats, two visit, board, search and seizure, boarding teams, two 30 milimeter machine guns, two MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles, and an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter. The ship is also armed with a BAE Systems 57 millimeter Mk 110 main gun and a11-cell Raytheon RIM-116B SeaRAM missile-defense system.
The Independence-class variant of the LCS boasts a larger flight deck than the Freedom-class variant. It also has more fuel capacity and a wider operational range. The arrival of the USS Coronado was delayed due to an engineering casualty in August. Five LCSs have suffered major incidents within the last twelve months.