The US Navy has sent one of its Littoral Combat Ships on an overseas deployment for the first time. USS Freedom (LCS-1) departed San Diego on 1 March and headed for Singapore from where she will conduct maritime security operations and participate in international exercises.

The navy will use the ten-month trip to try out the dual-crew concept and also to determine the strengths and weaknesses in an operational environment, of the much-criticised LCSprogramme, which has encountered a number of structural deficiencies andcost overruns.

In another first, the navy has opted to paint the entire ship with a ‘dazzle’ pattern which was common during two World Wars. The four-colour effect is thought to be an effective camouflage on hulls operating near coastal regions. Previously only the steel hull had been painted with the aluminium superstructure left alone to eliminate the requirement for maintenance.

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