San Diego-based USS Freedom arrived in Singapore today

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego-based USS Freedom, the Navy’s first littoral combat ship to deploy overseas, arrived in Singapore today, where it will patrol for the next eight months, the 7th Fleet announced.

”We plan on spending most of our time here in Southeast Asia — this will be Freedom’s neighborhood for the next eight months,” said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, the commanding officer. ”We are eager to get out and about, work with other regional navies and share best practices during exercises, port visits and maritime security operations.”

The Freedom’s 91 sailors were welcomed at Changi Naval Base by U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman and Singapore navy’s fleet commander Timothy Lo.

The LCS is a new class of ship designed to fight in coastal waters and its top speed is more than 40 knots, according to the Navy. Littoral combat ships took years to get into active service because of problems with cracks, communications systems and hull corrosion.

The vessels can be reconfigured for different types of missions, according to the Navy. Part of the flexibility will allow a swap of crewmen halfway through the ship’s deployment.

The Freedom left San Diego March 1 and made port calls in Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines.

The 7th Fleet announced that the vessel is scheduled to participate in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference next month in Singapore and later take part in training exercises with other navies in the region.

A fire aboard the littoral combat ship Coronado, christened in January 2012, caused minor damage Friday while the vessel was doing a full-power demonstration during its second-day of sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Some insulation on a diesel exhaust line caught fire

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