Four US warships designed to fight in coastal areas similar to south-east Asian waters will operate out of Singapore by 2018, a senior US Navy official said Tuesday, further underscoring Washington’s military tilt to Asia.
“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 May 2017 to sometime in 2018… but I think what you have is that by 2018, four LCS ships will be rotationally deployed here to Singapore.”
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 24 February – 6 March.
It will also join regional navies in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercises and the International Maritime Defence Exhibition.
“The role of the US navy in both south-east Asia and north-east Asia is about presence. It’s about being where it matters when it matters,” Williams said.
Fast and agile, LCS vessels can be adapted for specific missions through a system of interchangeable modules and crew.
The US Navy plans to build 52 LCS vessels at a total cost of $37 billion but the programme has become controversial due to cost inflation, design and construction issues.
In 2012 the then-US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta announced that Washington would shift the bulk of its naval fleet to the Pacific by 2020 as part of a new strategic focus on Asia.
China is embroiled in a maritime dispute with four south-east Asian countries – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – as well as with Taiwan over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
While not a claimant, the United States has said it has an interest to ensure freedom of navigation in the area.
- US military plans new tactics to deter China in South China Sea (chinadailymail.com)
- US State Department says China’s nine-dashed line in South China Sea wouldn’t pass any legal test (chinadailymail.com)
- US would welcome Japanese air patrols in South China Sea (chinadailymail.com)
- Vietnam is becoming a proxy in efforts to contain China in the South China Sea (chinadailymail.com)
- U.S. lawmakers call Chinese actions in South China Sea ‘troubling’ (chinadailymail.com)
- US backs Japan to extend air patrols over South China Sea (ibtimes.co.uk)
- US Navy may base ships in Australia, admiral says (theage.com.au)
- US Navy intel officer says China gearing for war (oneislandtwonationsblogspotcom.typepad.com)
- Japan to mull expanding navy patrols to South China Sea (thanhniennews.com)
- Japan says South China Sea security has impact on national interests (straitstimes.com)