US Navy vessel departs Singapore after 14-month deployment to South-east Asia

A file photo of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) moored at Cam Ranh Bay International Port as part of Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) Vietnam 2017.
A file photo of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) moored at Cam Ranh Bay International Port as part of Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) Vietnam 2017. PHOTO: US NAVY

SINGAPORE - An American littoral combat ship left Singapore shores and headed for San Diego on Saturday (Nov 4), after completing a 14-month deployment to South-east Asia.

During its deployment, the USS Coronado, a relatively small surface vessel, worked with 16 partner navies, participated in 11 multilateral and bilateral exercises and made 10 strategic port visits, including Singapore.

The USS Coronado was involved in Exercise Pacific Griffin from Aug 19 to Sept 2 this year, where the ship worked with the Republic of Singapore Navy in Guam.

The ship also contributed to regional maritime security through routine operations in the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Andaman Sea, Sulu Sea, and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, the United States Navy said in a statement.

Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, who commands the Logistics Force in the Western Pacific, said the USS Coronado's rotational deployment demonstrated the relevance of littoral combat ships as a platform "tailor-made for the dynamic and congested sea lanes, straits and archipelagos of South and South-east Asia, providing flexible options and tactical advantages".

In the US, the ship has come under fire for not being able to adapt to most combat scenarios and its relatively high costs.

Said Rear Admiral Gabrielson in the statement: "We made tremendous strides in a challenging, forward deployed environment and the team is already applying lessons learned to future deployments in 2018. The navy remains committed to the rotational deployment of the littoral combat ship to the Indo-Asia-Pacific and views the littoral combat ship as a pillar of future US maritime presence in South-east Asia."

US warships were involved in four incidents in Asian waters this year. On Thursday, the US Navy released a report covering two collisions, including that of US destroyer USS John S. McCain with an oil tanker in Singapore waters in August.