The speed, maneuverability and shallow draft of the Navy’sLittoral Combat Ship makes the platform well suited for the South China Sea, Pentagon leaders said while releasing a new Asia-Pacific maritime strategy document.
“The LCS is ideally suited for a role in the South China Sea. It is fast, light and flexible and it has a fifteen foot draft so it can go places other vessels cannot go. We plan to have four LCS ships in Singapore on a rotational basis by 2018,” David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, told reporters on Friday.
The service has long planned to rotate the ships through Singapore as part of the Pentagon’s shift to the Pacific. However, the increasing LCS fleet size underscores the potential value of the platform in the South China Sea region, where there are many shallow ports inaccessible to larger-draft ships.
The Navy is preparing to receive four more of its shallow-water Littoral Combat Ships between now and February, effectively doubling its current fleet and paving the way for more deployments.
On Aug. 11, the Navy formally accepted delivery of LCS 6, the USS Jackson, during a ceremony at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.
Following this delivery, the service is preparing to accept delivery of LCS 5, the USS Milwaukee, in October of this year and the USS Montgomery, LCS 8, in December of this year, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Chris Johnson recently said.
On the heels of these deliveries, the Navy plans to receive the USS Detroit, LCS 7, in February of next year, he added.
“By early next year, the Navy will be operating eight littoral combat ships and we’ll be accepting four more by the end of 2016. The Navy will continue to accept ships at that rate for the next several years making the LCS class the second largest surface combatant class in the fleet and the key to our ability to operate in shallow, coastal waterways around the world,” Johnson recently told Military.com.
Shear explained that stepping up LCS missions in the South China Sea is part of a broader strategic effort to maintain presence and patrol the area in light of China’s recent efforts to build artificial land structures in the contested Spratly Islands.
Read more: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2015/08/21/lcs-to-boost-u-s-presence-in-disputed-south-china-sea/