As USS Freedom (LCS 1) pulled in for its first port call in Hawaii March 11, Sailors and civilians assigned to NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego were standing by to provide the ship with critical, innovative logistics support from the sunny shores of California.
NAVSUP FLC San Diego’s Logistics Support Team (LST) serves as the operational and tactical support partner for support ashore to Freedom and other Littoral Combat Ships. From food service management to logistics, husbanding and port service coordination, LST Sailors and civilians act as the action hub responsible for maintaining Freedom’s operational readiness as the ship sails through its maiden deployment.
The LST, established in 2008, provides around-the-clock support to Freedom and the other LCS ships as they navigate in dynamic and uncertain theaters. Because Freedom does not have a full supply department like other ships, LST personnel often must anticipate the smaller crew’s needs.
“Freedom’s Sailors can’t just walk across the ship to their supply department when they need to order items, so the global nature of our business and leveraging the extensive NAVSUP network is really what makes our shore support model effective,” said Deputy LST Officer Ferdinand Herrera. “We are always asking ourselves when she is going to need food and fuel so that we can stay ahead, on top of providing necessities like medical supplies, consumables and mail.”
The LST support to Freedom began long before the ship departed March 1. In fiscal year 2012 alone, the LST coordinated 15 port visits, arranged more than $470,000 in subsistence deliveries and managed a combined $3 million for repairable and consumable parts for LCS ships.
As the Navy’s mission around the globe expands, the command’s mission and supporting role are evolving, making organizational agility more important than ever. Fast, efficient support from the shoreline to the cutting-edge vessel at sea allows Freedom’s commanders to operate forward in unpredictable environments while countering the challenging threats the ship was built to overcome.
Another in-house group of logistics pros, the Class Maintenance Team Loggies, are an equally important ally in Freedom’s operational corner.
The loggies augment the Maintenance Support Team (MST), responsible for nearly all maintenance requirements aboard Freedom and other LCS ships. They employ their logistics and maintenance networks to ensure ship operators, technicians and engineers are equipped with the proper equipment, test gear, parts and training for support and sustainment of the vessel.
“If we receive a casualty report (CASREP) or a request for support, we look at our options and figure out the most effective way to solve the problem, and that can mean anything from getting training manuals to the crew to flying out repair parts to support the techs and engineers who can meet the ship abroad,” said Craig Horton, Integrated Logistics Support Director for NAVSUP FLC San Diego. “It can mean providing distance support or even participating in assessments for availability periods and pre-deployment work-ups. Basically, we use every resource available to make sure that national asset is properly maintained. And, if something breaks, we get the parts quickly so the ship can stay on task and move ahead with its mission.”
Because of the complexity of the ship’s infrastructure and maintenance networks, the loggies work closely with the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC), LCS squadrons, maintenance class team leads, port engineers, combat systems engineers and other support personnel to keep Freedom in tip-top shape.
“If the SWRMC maintainers need anything in order to get that ship deployed, to keep it deployed or while it’s overseas to keep her operationally ready, that’s us,” said Horton. “That ship has got to stay ready to fight, and that’s what we keep our focus on. The crew’s job is to take that ship to the tip of the spear. Our job is to keep the ship working and afloat so they can do that.”
The maintenance team has processed 102 research requests and 22 requisitions – in addition to assisting the crew with more than a dozen casualty reports – in the last two months alone. The LCS class’ reliance on automation and shore-based support differs from legacy ships, but smaller crew sizes result in savings that exceed funding requirements for shore support infrastructure systems like the MST and LST.
“The vital economic and security interests of our nation linked to recent worldwide developments create a unique blend of evolving challenges and opportunities, not just for the warfighter, but also for us as we equip the warfighter,” said Commanding Officer Capt. Pete Stamatopoulos. “Our goal is to increase the trust and confidence our forces place on us as their proven support system ashore and give them the assurance of knowing that when they need us, we’re ready. That trust allows the Freedom crew to keep their focus on the mission at hand.”
Freedom, the Navy’s first littoral combat ship, is currently making its way to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility to conduct maritime security operations while highlighting U.S. strategic intent in the region.
By Candice Villarreal
NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego Public Affairs