USS Freedom (LCS 1), the lead ship of the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship, recognized more than a decade of naval service during a decommissioning ceremony at Naval Base San Diego. During the ceremony guest speaker, retired Rear Adm. Donald Gabrielson, former commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Southern Command/Commander, U.S. Fourth Fleet and commanding officer of Freedom’s commissioning crew, wished the current crew fair winds and following seas as they bid farewell to their ship. Due to public health safety and restrictions of large public events related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the ceremony was a private event celebrated alongside ship plankowners and former crew members.
“I have never in my life seen or served alongside a more capable, dedicated, devoted, talented, and inspiring group of people than the Sailors I served alongside with LCS and what I have watched in every day since.” said Gabrielson. “As we acknowledge this bittersweet moment, I hope well all remember that this ship was a vehicle to learn and innovate by doing and to make real progress in a short amount of time, and that doesn’t happen with other ship concepts.”
Freedom’s commanding officer, Capt. Larry Repass, reflected on the service of his crew and those who came before. “As we bid farewell to Freedom, her crew consists of superb, highly trained, deeply committed Sailors who are dedicated to mission accomplishment, defense of the nation, and defense of our families,” said Repass. “In them, the spirit of Freedom lives on.”
Freedom maintained a crew of nine officers and 41 enlisted Sailors. The ship was built in Marinette, Wisconsin, by Fincantieri Marinette Marine and commissioned Nov. 8, 2008, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Freedom has been a test and training ship and was key in developing the operational concepts foundational to the current configuration and deployment of LCS today. The decommissioning of LCS 1 supports department-wide business process reform initiatives to free up time, resources, and manpower in support of increased lethality. The LCS remains a fast, agile, and networked surface combatant, designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking and winning against 21st-century coastal threats.