By Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson
Commander, Task Force 73
The littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) arrived in Singapore to begin a rotational deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Oct. 16. You can’t help but notice its distinctive design – a wide, angular, three-hulled aluminum trimaran that looks like the future beamed itself back for a glimpse of what’s to come. That’s not far from the truth, as LCS represents an important future capability of the United States Navy.
Coronado is America’s third littoral combat ship in Singapore and the first trimaran version to operate in Southeast Asia after the deployments of USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and USS Freedom (LCS 1). The littoral combat ship deployments represent American interests and help grow regional relationships and partnerships.
Why does America deploy littoral combat ships to Southeast Asia? Thanks to the support and hospitality of our Singapore hosts, littoral combat ships enable a constant American Navy presence in Southeast Asia, supporting shared strategic interests, responding to humanitarian disasters, and conducting exercises and visits with regional partners and allies. With their shallow drafts, ability to drive at high speeds and large belowdeck capacities, littoral combat ships are ideal in both size and capability for those missions. They’re not destroyers or tank landing ships or cargo ships.
The Indo-Asia-Pacific powers the global economy – what happens here matters to the whole world. Singapore is a key crossroad of the global economy, with over USD $5 trillion passing through the region annually. What moves and happens on the water influences and shapes everything that happens on land. Stability, economic access and a world where every nation has a voice, are enduring strategic interests shared by every nation, in a global system that values right more than might. Strong partnerships underpin regional maritime security. American littoral combat ships and their unique capabilities enhance maritime partnerships that support shared values and interests.
Every nation in the region depends upon secure, free maritime trade and also faces natural disasters, radical extremism and piracy – threats that ignore borders. On average, two multi-national disaster response efforts are needed each year in Southeast Asia. Littoral combat ships can go places and do things that no other American ships can, with flexible, large payloads that enable easy integration with regional navies for both military and humanitarian missions.
Over 50,000 islands dot the arc from the Philippines to Sri Lanka, with shallow water and small ports limiting traditional ship operations and access. Larger combatants, including destroyers, require over 10 meters of water, and have less than 10 percent of their volume available for reconfiguration. In that arc between the Philippines and Sri Lanka, nearly 50 ports are accessible to larger ships.
Littoral combat ships, with 60 percent reconfigurable internal space and a shallow draft of less than four meters, are ideal for the dynamic and congested sea lanes, straits and archipelagos of Southeast Asia. LCS can dock in well over a thousand ports in the same range of locations, operating far more freely in every conceivable mission.
In previous deployments to Singapore, littoral combat ships participated in more than 20 exercises and operations around Southeast Asia and spent more than 500 days at sea in the region, visiting ports where no other American ship has ever docked.
USS Fort Worth conducted sophisticated anti-piracy training in concert with the Republic of Singapore Navy, employing unmanned aerial vehicles and boat teams in annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT). USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth were each deployed for disaster response, supporting Typhoon Haiyan relief operations in the Philippines and the search for AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the Java Sea, respectively, providing ready resources and relevant technologies. Both ships also joined operations and patrols alongside regional partners, enhancing cooperative security initiatives across Southeast Asia and beyond.
Littoral combat ship deployments are a tangible symbol of America’s commitment and a significant investment in regional maritime partnerships. In the months ahead, USS Coronado will add to LCS’ contributions, alongside our maritime partners in Singapore and across the region. Coronado will go where it’s needed, delivering relevant capabilities, responding to the call of duty in support of strategic interests shared by every nation, preserving freedom of the seas and protecting lives.
America deeply values its security relationships with Singapore and nations across the region. As more littoral combat ships deploy to Southeast Asia in the years ahead, the U.S. Navy will remain a reliable partner for peace and stability, as we have for more than 70 years.