USS Little Rock sets sail on Central American mission

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 06, 2020) The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Little Rock (LCS 9) departs Naval Station Mayport for the ship’s maiden deployment. The Little Rock deployment will be the third deployment of an LCS in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South’s Campaign MARTILLO. The Deployment of LCS to the region demonstrates the U.S. commitment to regional cooperation and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

MAYPORT, Fla. (News release) – Beginning her maiden deployment, USS Little Rock (LCS 9) departed her Mayport, Fla. homeport Feb. 6 for the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility.

The Freedom-class littoral combat ship, Little Rock will operate in the Southern Command Area of Responsibility. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet employs maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, fortify the ability of U.S. forces to work together with partner nations, and build enduring partnerships with the ultimate goal of enhancing regional security and promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Little Rock is expected to conduct operations in support of Campaign MARTILLO , which is a multinational effort launched in January 2012 targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along Central America. Little Rock’s operations will involve practical exercises and exchanges with partner nations in support of Campaign MARTILLO, support Fourth Fleet interoperability and reinforce the U.S position as the regional partner of choice.

This deployment will be the third to this region and third to include a Freedom-variant LCS in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South’s Campaign MARTILLO. The first deployment was made by USS Freedom (LCS 1) in 2010 and was followed by USS Detroit (LCS 7) in Oct. 2019.

Little Rock will also demonstrate her operational capabilities and allow the Navy to evaluate crew rotation and maintenance plans. Little Rock will be 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-60 helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Vehicles.

“I expect this deployment to offer a great opportunity to work together with regional partners throughout Southern Command Area of Responsibility,” said Cmdr. Brad Long, USS Little Rock Gold Crew’s commanding officer. “We hope to advance and strengthen these partnerships to enhance the security in that region.”

While in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions, Little Rock will execute a rotational deployment of Blue and Gold crew during the deployment. The two crews will rotate aboard Little Rock every four-five months, maintaining consistency between the crews who turn the same ship over to each other, which will allow continuous presence in the region.

LCS is a fast, agile and networked surface combatant, optimized for operating in the littoral zones. The primary missions for the LCS include countering diesel submarine threats, littoral mine threats and surface threats, such as small surface craft attacks, to assure maritime access for joint forces. The underlying strength of the LCS lies in its innovative design approach, applying modularity for operational flexibility.

The ship was commissioned Dec. 16, 2017, and is the second ship named for the Arkansas capital city.

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