US Navy's littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Fort Worth has completed its joint training exercise in South Korea, opening the gateway of North East Asia for more such vessels.
The 3,450t vessel has participated in the annual field training exercise Foal Eagle for the first time. It is carrying a MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and a MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system.
Global Post quoted US Naval Forces Korea commander Lisa Franchetti as saying: "USS Fort Worth and her crew just completed a very productive exercise at sea. We look forward to hosting more LCSs in South Korea as the US Navy normalises the presence of this platform in Northeast Asia through regular participation in bilateral naval exercises like Foal Eagle."
The LCS are designed for near-shore operations. It is usually deployed to South East Asia.
Having a maximum speed of around 45mph, the vessel's ability to move into shallow coastal waters enables it to come closer to the shore than larger ships.
The presence of USS Fort Worth has made rival North Korea protest the annual exercise, with the local media speculating that the Foal Eagle signals towards an impending attack on the north.
Francetti added: "I don't see these exercises as provocative."
Foal Eagle/ Key Resolve is an annual event between South Korea and the US. Foal Eagle is a field exercise while Key Resolve involves computer simulations.
This year, Foal Eagle began on 2 March and will continue until 24 April.
Image: The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3). Photo: courtesy of US Navy / mass communication specialist 2nd class Antonio P Turretto Ramos.