The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13), along with the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, detachment 8, is underway Feb. 25 to support operations in U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. The deployment of an LCS to the region aims to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to regional cooperation and security. The LCS’s shallow draft provides unparalleled opportunities for port access, making the ship an ideal vessel for these types of engagements. Wichita will support counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. Wichita’s operations will involve practical exercises and exchanges with partner nations, supporting U.S. 4th Fleet interoperability and reinforcing the U.S. position as the regional partner of choice.
“Having to shift from a training ship mindset to a deployment mindset was a smooth transition,” said Command Senior Chief Sherita Jackson. “In true WuShock spirit, the crew met the challenge head on and is ready to answer the call.”
“We’re excited to sail our ship on her maiden deployment knowing we will directly support our national security objectives,” said Cmdr. Daniel Reiher, commanding officer of USS Wichita. “This is a win for this crew and the greater LCS enterprise. Furthermore, we’re proud to represent our namesake, the city of Wichita.”
Wichita will initially be manned by its crew of more than 100 Sailors, including mine and surface warfare mission-package personnel; a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment; and an aviation detachment, who will operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff/Unmanned Vehicles. An LCS is a fast, agile and networked surface combatant, optimized for littoral zones. The primary missions for the LCS include countering threats from diesel submarines, littoral mines and attacks by small surface craft, to assure maritime access for joint forces. USS Wichita is attached to U.S. 2nd Fleet and is one of two deployable littoral combat ships under Mine Division Two Two. LCS is a highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship designed to support focused surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare.