The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) executed a bilateral maritime exercise with the French Navy off the coast of Martinique, France, June 23 while operating in the Caribbean Sea. Sioux City with her embarked MH-60S Seahawk attached to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 3, and the French Navy FlorÃ©al-class frigate FS Germinal (F735) participated in the exercise. The engagement provided an opportunity for both navies to improve interoperability and demonstrate their ability to communicate, navigate, and operate together at sea.
“With this exercise, we had a unique opportunity to train with one of our European allies in the U.S. 4th Fleet theater,” said Cmdr. Wade Smith, commanding officer of Sioux City. “Being able to get together anywhere, anytime, continues to show how the strength of our partnership with France exists no matter where in the world our forces are located.”
Throughout the exercise, forces practiced a series of tactical shipboard movements and formations called division tactics (DIVTACS) as well as tested command and control and communication capabilities. Bilateral exercises with allies afford the opportunity to develop a greater trust, understanding and respect for each other’s unique platforms all while improving crews’ knowledge and demonstrating shared tactics. The exercise was a concluding event after Sioux City conducted a brief stop in Martinique, France to refuel.
Sioux City is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.