The littoral combat ship Sioux City is operating in the Middle East — marking the first time an LCS has deployed to the region.
The Freedom-class LCS, which departed Mayport, Florida, in April, is in the Red Sea to bolster maritime security and partner capacity building, and in the Bab al-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 153. The ship arrived in U.S. 5th Fleet May 28 after operating in 6th Fleet to support NATO allies and partners.
“We’re excited to welcome a littoral combat ship to the Middle East for the first time,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a Navy news release. “Sioux City’s arrival is not only historic but essential to regional maritime security given its immediate integration with our new multinational naval task force.”
Combined Task Force 153 was stood up last month, and is one of four task forces now operating in the Mideast to counter maritime threats under Combined Maritime Forces, which the U.S. leads and is composed of 34 nations.
“We’re thrilled to have Sioux City join our team,” said Capt. Robert Francis, commander of Combined Task Force 153, in the release. “They’ve worked collaboratively in bringing enhanced capabilities to other regions and that’s certainly what we’re looking forward to here in the Middle East while operating with our international partners.”
The ship, commissioned in 2018, concluded a deployment to the U.S. 4th Fleet in December. The ship and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Detachment 4 conducted counter-drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean with embarked U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Detachment 102 during the deployment, seizing or disrupting the trafficking of more than $230M in narcotics.
The Sioux City could decommission next year though. The Navy’s proposed budget released in March requests to decommission 24 ships — including all nine Freedom-variant littoral combat ships before the end of their service life.