The U.S. Navy Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) departed its homeport of Mayport, Florida, for the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility on its maiden deployment Oct. 31.
Detroit will conduct operations in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South’s Campaign MARTILLO, a multinational effort launched in January 2012 targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along Central America. Detroit’s operations will involve practical exercises and exchanges with partner nations, supporting U.S. 4th Fleet interoperability and reinforce the U.S. position as the regional partner of choice.
“I expect this deployment to offer a great opportunity to work together with regional partners throughout Southern Command Area of Responsibility,” said Capt. Cory Applebee, Commander, Surface Warfare Division Two One.
The deployment of Detroit is the first deployment of an LCS in support of MARTILLO and the second deployment of the Freedom-variant to the region. The first deployment was USS Freedom (LCS 1) in 2010.
MARTILLO includes twenty partner nations committed to a regional approach against targeting illicit trafficking routes. The deployment of an LCS to the region demonstrates the U.S. commitment to regional cooperation and security. Detroit’s shallow draft provides unparalleled opportunities for port access, making Freedom variant an ideal vessel for these types of engagements.
“We hope Detroit will build relationships with that region and show that LCS is a capable warfighting platform that is ready to safeguard access to international waterways and demonstrate operating capabilities,” Applebee said.
Detroit will also demonstrate her operational capabilities and allow the Navy to evaluate crew rotation and maintenance plans. Detroit is manned by her Gold crew of more than 90 Sailors, which will include surface warfare mission package personnel, U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment, and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and two MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Vehicles.
Homeported in Mayport, Detroit will have Blue and Gold crew rotations during the deployment. The two crews will rotate on the same hull every 4-5 months, creating a “cycle of virtue” between the crews who consistently turn the same ship over to each other, which will allow continuous presence in the region.