WASHINGTON: The Navy this week announced that a Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship for the first time has deployed to US 6th Fleet, as a measure of assurance for NATO allies and partners in Europe and Africa.
“Sioux City’s deployment allows us to integrate the LCS’ unique operational capability into our already diverse fleet,” said Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, US 6th Fleet, in a May 5 service statement. “The agility of Littoral Combat Ships allows them to operate in both near-shore and open-ocean environments, enhancing our ability to provide security and stability across the European theater.”
Embarked on the ship are two MH-60S Seahawk helicopters from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22.
The deployment comes when the US has sought to strengthen ties with various European countries as the continent contends with Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The commander of US 2nd Fleet, which was re-established specifically to counter Russia, last month discussed that fleet’s first deployment, which took place earlier this year. Vice. Adm. Daniel Dwyer declined to connect the deployment and Russia’s invasion, but did make clear the fleet’s intention was to strengthen ties with various European allies.
US 6th Fleet is based in Naples, Italy, and operates in seas separating Europe and Africa, while US 2nd Fleet is based in Norfolk, Va., and focuses on the North Atlantic Ocean.
Separately, following the revelations about problems with its combining gear and numerous issues employing the anti-submarine warfare mission module package, the Navy this year is seeking Congress’ permission to decommission nine Freedom-class LCS.