MELBOURNE, Australia — The U.S. Navy has resumed overseas deployments of the littoral combat ship after a hiatus of around 18 months, with the first of three such ships scheduled to deploy this year arriving in the Pacific.
According to a news release issued by the Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (CLWP), the USS Montgomery arrived in Davao City, Philippines last Saturday for a port visit as part of her first deployment.
Commander Edward A. Rosso, the Montgomery's commanding officer (Blue Crew), said it is an honor to have the opportunity to visit one of the U.S.'s longest-standing allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
"My crew and I are very much looking forward to visiting Davao City," said Rosso. "Port visits allow us to demonstrate our commitment to maritime security in the region, while strengthening relationships with our friends, partners and allies."
The visit to Davao was the first indication of the resumption of the LCS deployments, with no formal announcement made of the Montgomery’s departure from her homeport of San Diego. The ship will be the fourth LCS to deploy to the region, following the USS Freedom (LCS-1), Fort Worth (LCS-3) and Coronado (LCS-4) in 2013, 2014 and 2016 respectively.
CLWP Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant-Commander Sean O’Riordan confirmed to Defense News that Singapore will continue to serve as the primary maintenance hub for LCS deployments in the region. Singapore had earlier agreed to host up to four LCS deployed on regional rotations, and previous LCS deployments used Singapore’s Changi Naval Base as its main hub.
The Montgomery’s deployment to the region is the first undertaken by an LCS since the Coronado returned to San Diego in late 2017, and confirmed earlier remarks by several Navy leaders that such deployments will resume this year.
Deployments had paused as a result of the Navy overhauling the troubled LCS program and crew training. Since then the Navy has revamped how it trains and deploys LCS crews, although that has subsequently led to questions about how future deployments will be run and how the crews are prepared to go to sea.
Navy officials said earlier two other ships, the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) and the USS Detroit (LCS-7), will also deploy this year from the West and East Coast respectively.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.