Today, littoral combat ships of the Freedom (LCS-1) and Independence (LCS-2) classes are operating forward. They execute military diplomacy across a wide geographical range, build greater transparency, reduce the risk of miscalculation or conflict, and promote a shared maritime environment. Good, bad, and ugly articles about these ships reflect an acute interest in as well as an endemic misunderstanding of these innovative platforms. As 7th Fleet Commander, and later as Director of the Navy Staff, I followed the LCS program with great interest and listened carefully to disparagers and devotees alike. As Pacific Fleet Commander, I now see how LCS contributes to meet the Department of Defense’s Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy objectives: to safeguard the freedom of the seas, deter conflict and coercion, and promote adherence to international law and standards. Are they perfect? No, which is why I endorse the Chief of Naval Operations’ initiatives to improve the LCS classes. That said, the more we operate LCSs in the Pacific, the more clearly I see their value and the more committed I am to operating them forward.
Despite the usual ‘ups, downs, and learning moments,’ littoral combat ships already are demonstrably proving to be assets in the Asia-Pacific.
By Admiral Scott H. Swift, U.S. Navy