WASHINGTON: The Navy has long touted the Littoral Combat Ship’s multimission abilities to support U.S. forces. But the next-generation warship will also be key role in supporting America’s allies across the globe.
The Navy is pursuing an “aggressive fielding” strategy to get the LCS into the fleet, Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, director of the service’s surface warfare division, said today. Getting the LCS to sea faster gives Navy planners the ability to push U.S. warships further forward into regions like the Western Pacific, Rowden said during a speech at the Surface Navy Association-sponsored symposium in Arlington today. Extending American naval presence in places like the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf falls in line with the White House’s new national security strategy. It also puts the Navy in a perfect position to make important friends in some very dangerous places, Rowden pointed out.
The adaptability and multimission capability of the LCS makes it the perfect ally-building ship for U.S. forces, the surface warfare chief said. The LCS, is “less overwhelming to our friends and potential friends” than other U.S. warships in the fleet, Rowden added. Keeping that type of profile is critical to many potential U.S. allies. Many countries who want to with with U.S. forces may also be wary of the signal an American destroyer or aircraft carrier would sent to regional allies and adversaries alike.
The ship makes just enough of an impression of an American presence within a host country, but not so much as to cause a backlash against that country, Rowden explained. It lets international allies forge stronger ties with the U.S. military, but lets them do it “on their terms” he added. So far the strategy seems to be working. Last July, Singapore agreed to let the Navy permanently station a number of LCSs in their territorial waters. Saudi Arabia is looking at acquiring a number of LCSs as part of a massive plan to bolster its eastern naval fleet. LCS manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Austal USA have also been actively pursuing foreign sales of the ship to several U.S. allies.