| Hakim Hayat |
THE United States (US) Navy’s independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Coronado (LCS-4) is currently in Brunei waters as part of a goodwill visit to enhance ties with its counterpart here.
Members of the media yesterday toured the 210-tonne capacity combat ship, currently docked at the Muara Commercial Port.
The ship is here for the first time, and is in the region as part of its scheduled rotational deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The Coronado, whose home port is in San Diego, California, USA, is berthed at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base as part of a 16-month deployment schedule since October last year.
The Coronado (LCS-4) is an innovative surface combatant designed to operate in littoral seas and shallow water to counter mines, submarines and fast surface craft threats in coastal regions.
Leading the media on the tour, USS Coronado Commanding Officer Scott Larson explained that having the independence-variant deployed to this region will further expand operations with regional navies, which is an important part to US’ engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.
They are ideal for this region – seeing that they are easily integrated into exercises and operations in shallow and congested sea lanes – and allow for enhanced US presence, subsequently deepening ties with allies and partners.
The independence-variant boasts a large flight deck, allowing for expanded aviation operations including dual helicopter-UAV operations, and has more fuel capacity providing increased operational capabilities.
The ship is outfitted with the Surface Warfare mission package, comprising two rigid hull inflatable boats, two 30mm machine guns, two Northrop-Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles, and, for the first time deployed onboard an LCS to Southeast Asia, a Lockheed-Martin MH-60S Seahawk helicopter.
The Fire Scouts and Seahawks are part of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Three (HSC-23), which forms part of the Coronado’s combined crew of 100 sailors.
Prior to the deployment to Singapore, Coronado and her crew took part in the multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise off Hawaii, and was also part of various search and rescue missions around the region’s waters.
Commander Scott said that before leaving the country early next week, they will be conducting coordination exercises with assets from the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN).