The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) returned to Naval Station Mayport, Florida, Oct. 2, following its historic five-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations. The deployment provided an opportunity for Sioux City to gain experience in both operational fleets. The ship’s size, speed, and agility allowed it to perform maritime security operations, theater security cooperation engagements, and freedom of navigation patrols – keeping critical maritime commerce routes open, deterring conflict and coercion, and strengthening partnerships with other countries. Sioux City Blue Crew, along with the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 2, deployed on Apr. 25, 2022, becoming the first LCS to operate in the Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf.
Sioux City participated in various at-sea evolutions and operated alongside U.S. and allied units on multiple occasions, including the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), two Egyptian Navy ships, the Italian Navy Cassiopea-class MM Patrol Boat “Vega” (P404) and a German Navy patrol aircraft (P3C). The ship conducted a preventive maintenance availability (PMAV) at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece in May, successfully accomplishing the proof-of-concept for Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center’s (FDRMC) ability to conduct maintenance on the LCS class in Europe. Following this PMAV, Sioux City entered the 5th Fleet area of operations and transited the Suez Canal to provide regional maritime security and partner capacity building in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden in support of the recently established Combined Task Force (CTF) 153.
The ship then transited the Strait of Hormuz alongside coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) and four U.S. Coast Guard cutters before arriving at Naval Support Activity Bahrain for another PMAV opportunity, June 25, before continuing operations in the region. After 39 days underway in 5th Fleet, the ship returned to the Mediterranean Sea, eventually heading up north for a final PMAV period in Fredericia, Denmark, the first LCS PMAV in the Baltic Sea region, Aug. 24, 2022. The ship and her crew bolstered relations with a key NATO ally while accomplishing repairs to keep the ship mission-ready.
Along with their embarked air detachment, Sioux City conducted over 350 hours of search and rescue (SAR) capable flight operations as well as numerous Visit Board Search and Seizure operations while deployed. Throughout the deployment, Sioux City traveled approximately 27,000 nautical miles and visited 16 ports. While underway, eight Sailors earned their enlisted surface warfare specialist qualification, 30 Sailors earned their enlisted air warfare specialist qualification, and 11 Sailors requalified. Two Sailors were also advanced to the next paygrade, while two more were meritoriously advanced. LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats and is capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence.