The Littoral Combat Ships that will soon begin rotational deployment to Singapore are an example of the increased military engagement called for under the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said today.
En route from Singapore to the Philippines today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff filled in the picture outlined yesterday during the 11th annual Asia security conference in Singapore known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.
Following a bilateral U.S.-Singapore meeting at the conference, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Singapore’s Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen finalized the rotation of four U.S. Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore. Dempsey told American Forces Press Service today that the ships will be managed out of, not based in, Singapore.
“They’ll be deployed for six to 10 months at a time, on a rotational basis, but they’ll make port calls throughout the region,” the chairman said. “And so while the U.S.-Singapore relationship will be the most significant beneficiary of that, so too will Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines [and] others in the region.”
The ships have a range of capabilities, Dempsey said, “everything from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief right up to its ability to act as a warship.”
Littoral Combat Ships are designed to operate in near-shore environments and are effective against “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. They are also capable of open-ocean operation.
With that range, the chairman said, the ships are well suited to multilateral exercises. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus is planning a multilateral maritime humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise, Dempsey noted.
“We haven’t committed to [that exercise] yet, but were we to commit to it, I think you’d find [the ships] very well suited to take part in that exercise,” he said.