The littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) departed the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) Nov 21 after supporting theater security cooperation efforts and maritime security operations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific for nearly 14 months.
During the rotational deployment, the ship and crew operated with navies of 16 partner nations, participated in 11 multilateral and bilateral exercises, and made 10 strategic port visits across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Coronado visited Puerto Princesa, Philippines, Guam, and Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands while transiting out of the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility and is currently in transit to her homeport in San Diego.
"The rotational deployment of USS Coronado demonstrated the relevance of LCS as a platform tailor made for the dynamic and congested sea lanes, straits and archipelagos of South and Southeast Asia, providing flexible options and tactical advantages," said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Task Force 73. "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 LCS to the Indo-Asia-Pacific and views the LCS as a pillar of future U.S. maritime presence in Southeast Asia."
Coronado achieved many operational milestones for the LCS program to include coordinated counterpiracy operations with the Philippine Navy in the Sulu Sea and inaugural port visits to Cam Ranh, Vietnam and Lumut, Malaysia where the ship and crew deepened maritime partnerships. While operating alongside the Republic of Singapore Navy during exercise Pacific Griffin near Guam, Coronado fired a Harpoon surface-to-surface missile and successfully struck a target beyond visual range. The ship also contributed to regional maritime security through routine presence operations in the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Andaman Sea, and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
“Our ability to conduct sophisticated ship evolutions in complex maritime environments with partner nations throughout the region is the direct result of a mutual and unwavering commitment by the U.S. and our Allies and partners in the region,” said Capt. Lex Walker, commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7.
There were also opportunities to improve scheduled and expeditionary maintenance for a deployed LCS. The ship’s maintainers reduced the average repair time while deployed from 15 to 4 days, increasing the availability and readiness of Coronado to operate across the region. Coronado also conducted expeditionary maintenance availabilities in locations outside Singapore to include Cam Ranh, Vietnam, Guam, and Lumut, Malaysia.
“I am extremely proud of the Sailors and the work we did in the region,” said Cmdr. Douglas Meagher, commanding officer of Coronado. “Members of the crew and partner navies alike were able to grow from their experiences at sea together.”
As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Task Force 73 and DESRON 7 conduct advanced planning, organize resources and directly support the execution of maritime exercises and engagements, such as Pacific Partnership, the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT). Task Force 73 and DESRON 7 also tactically control and coordinate maintenance for rotationally deployed Littoral Combat Ships.