The Navy decommissioned littoral combat ships Detroit and Little Rock on Friday in Mayport, Florida, after less than a decade of service, while also commissioning a brand new littoral combat ship the next day.
Both the Detroit and the Little Rock, which each completed deployments earlier in 2023, are among the nine Freedom-variant littoral combat ships the Navy announced in 2022 it wanted to place on the chopping block early so it could fund other priorities. The ships are expected to serve for 25 years.
Meanwhile, the Navy also commissioned the 17th Independence-variant littoral combat ship, Augusta, on Saturday in Eastport, Maine. The ship will be based out of San Diego.
“The USS Augusta and her crew will play an important role in defending our nation and enabling global maritime freedom and commerce,” Vice Adm. John Fuller, naval inspector general, said at the ceremony, according to a Navy news release. “She will be integrated into operations that provide presence and support both sea control and power projection, which are at the core of the Navy’s mission.”
The Little Rock, commissioned in 2017, and the Detroit, commissioned in 2016, deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet in March and April, respectively. During the deployment, the Little Rock completed seven vessel interdictions and seized more than 6,127 kilograms of cocaine worth a value of more than $127 million, according to the service.
Additionally, the Detroit and its embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment worked with other U.S. ships, and stopped a total of 900 kilograms of cocaine from entering the U.S., the Navy said.
“Deploying four times to the SOUTHCOM AOR in just seven years, Detroit led the way in training, operations as a Surface Mission Module test platform, and critical [U.S. 4th Fleet] tasking to include counter-drug interdiction, interoperability, and cooperative engagements throughout the Caribbean,” Cmdr. Kyle Hickman, Detroit’s commanding officer, said in a Navy news release.
The ships are among other Freedom-class littoral combat ships the Navy axed ahead of the end of fiscal year 2023. The Navy also decommissioned the Milwaukee in September after less than 10 years of service and the Sioux City in August after less than five years of service.
The Freedom-variant class of ships has been plagued with a defect that would require replacing the combining gears. Regardless of cost to solve the problem, service officials claim that the ships are not equipped to go head-to-head against China.
Still, Navy Times’ sister publication, Defense News, determined that decommissioning the ships early adds up to a nearly $7 billion loss, based on data from the Congressional Budget Office.