SINGAPORE (AFP) – Four US warships designed to fight in coastal areas similar to Southeast Asian waters will operate out of Singapore by 2018, a senior US Navy official said Tuesday, further underscoring Washington’s military tilt to Asia.
The “rotational deployment” of the vessels, called littoral combat ships (LCS), comes as China continues to flex its muscles in the South China Sea and tensions remain on the Korean Peninsula.
“We will soon see up to four LCS here in Singapore as we rotationally deploy Seventh Fleet ships,” said Rear Admiral Charles Williams.
“We envision four ships here by late 2017 to sometime in 2018… by 2018, four LCS ships will be rotationally deployed here to Singapore.”
Williams, commander of the Seventh Fleet’s Task Force 73, was speaking to reporters aboard the USS Fort Worth, an LCS on a 16-month deployment to Southeast Asia.
It replaced another LCS, the USS Freedom, which recently ended an eight-month tour of duty.
The USS Fort Worth is set to take part in exercise Foal Eagle, a joint military drill with South Korea from February 24-March 6.
It will also join regional navies in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercises and the International Maritime Defence Exhibition.