Saturday, the USS LCS City of the Sioux arrived in the US 5th Fleet, marking the first time a littoral combat ship has been deployed for patrol work in the Middle East – exactly the mission the class was designed for, but nearly 14 years late .
The ship and its crew of 75 reached the Red Sea after leaving Mayport, Florida in April. City of the Sioux will support a newly created multinational task force, Combined Task Force (CTF) 153, a division of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) based in Bahrain.
The new unit will focus on maritime security and capacity building in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden. City of the Sioux provides a US Navy platform that would otherwise be filled by a Arleigh Burke-class destroyer or a Ticonderogaclass cruiser – the type of high-end surface warfare ships needed for conventional deterrence, carrier escort, and missile defense in the 7th Fleet and 3rd Fleet.
This is exactly the mission profile the LCS was designed to fulfill: coastal maritime security patrols against a lightly armed threat, freeing up high-end assets for service elsewhere. However, the mission was long delayed. The FreedomClass hulls have been plagued with high maintenance costs and design flaws, including problems in the development of modular “mission packages” and bearing failures in their gear-combining propulsion system. Due to these shortcomings, the Freedom-class has only deployed to the 4th Fleet in recent years, close to home and away from adversaries.
After the cancellation of the Freedom-class anti-submarine warfare mission earlier this year, the Navy proposed decommissioning all of the first 10 ships in the class (including City of the Sioux). He plans to transfer them to an ally, freeing up resources to prepare for high-end combat.
The class came lightly armed, with a single 57mm main gun permanently installed. City of the Sioux deployed to the Middle East with two additional 30mm chain guns, but did not appear to have mounted the new naval strike missile package for surface warfare prior to departure, according to USNI News.
“We are thrilled to welcome a littoral combat ship to the Middle East for the first time,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. . “Sioux City The arrival is not only historic but critical to regional maritime security given its immediate integration into our new Combined Naval Task Force.
Last year, City of the Sioux operated in the Caribbean Sea in support of the 4th Fleet counter-narcotics mission. In April 2021, her crew and an embarked U.S. Coast Guard boarding party seized 600 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $24 million. In October, the ship seized another 500 kilograms of cocaine worth $20 million in the Caribbean.
“We are delighted to have City of the Sioux join our team,” said Captain Robert Francis, CTF 153 Commander. while operating with our international partners. .”