The US Navy’s first littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Freedom, is preparing for its maiden deployment to the US Southern Command region upon completion of its final training off the coast of Florida.

Currently, the LCS is undergoing final training on counter-illicit trafficking (CIT), damage control, and systems training at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

USS Freedom Gold Crew operations officer Lieutenant Commander Mark West said the training would help them prepare for the CIT mission that they expect to perform while in the 4th Fleet area of operations.

“Freedom can be an extremely formidable weapon in the war on drugs,” he said.

The ship’s two rotational crews, Blue and Gold, comprising 40 sailors each, attended counter-illicit trafficking / airborne use of force instruction ashore in an effort to maintain high levels of proficiency in multiple fields and to optimise ship operability with multiple crews.

Freedom’s crew underwent integrated training in a series of damage control and firefighting drills, which are intended to test the crew’s response to a variety of shipboard emergencies, from a simulated helicopter crash to casualty triage.

In addition, the crew also engaged in combat systems testing, running through a series of live-fire and tracking tests using the ship’s mk110 57mm gun, as well as the 30mm guns of the ship’s tailored surface warfare mission package.

The deployment of USS Freedom will conclude with a transit to its new homeport of San Diego in 2011.