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U.S. Navy decommissions USS Milwaukee, another littoral combat ship
By Sea And Coast | 13/09/2023
U.S. Navy Decommissions USS Milwaukee, Another Littoral Combat Ship
The U.S. Navy has initiated the process of scrapping its existing fleet of littoral combat vessels, and the most recent addition to this dismantling effort is the USS Milwaukee (LCS-5), which was officially decommissioned on September 8th at Mayport in Florida.
Originally, the littoral combat vessel program was designed to provide the Navy with fast and powerful vessels capable of operating near shorelines, gradually taking on coastal targets and submarines. However, the program encountered escalating costs as the Navy and the U.S. military shifted their strategies and doctrines toward peer-to-peer combat, particularly in the Pacific Ocean. Consequently, the Navy has phased out these vessels, with the budget for fiscal year 2023 including plans to decommission nine Freedom-class LCS vessels. Some circles have even taken to calling these vessels "little crappy vessels."
The USS Milwaukee, a Freedom-class LCS variant, was commissioned in November 2015, serving for less than eight years. Just last month, the USS Sioux City was also decommissioned after five years of service.
During the decommissioning ceremony held on Friday, Vice Admiral Dirk Debbink, a retired Navy officer and former chair of Milwaukee's commissioning committee, expressed pride in the vessel's service to the Navy and the nation since its cold November day commissioning in 2015.
The USS Milwaukee held the distinction of being the first serial production vessel of the Freedom Class, incorporating hundreds of changes and lessons learned from the Freedom and Fort Worth vessels.
Throughout its service life, the USS Milwaukee deployed twice, once earlier this year and again in 2022. It collaborated with law enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard, with the vessel's crew members intercepting notorious drug traffickers during the second deployment, seizing approximately $30 million worth of cocaine destined for the U.S.
Cmdr. Jason Knox, the commanding officer of the vessel, stated at the ceremony that the sailors who served on the Milwaukee played a pioneering role in training and operations that led to fleet improvements and notable operational successes, supporting national security objectives and demonstrating U.S. commitments to its allies. He emphasized that not only should the sailors take pride in their unique achievements, but the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, should share in that pride as well.
An investigative report by ProPublica shed light on issues with the littoral combat ships. The Navy underestimated the manufacturing costs, and the vessels suffered from persistent breakdowns and mechanical failures, compounded by heavy reliance on contractors, which left sailors inadequately trained to maintain their own ships.
The crew members of the USS Milwaukee are now preparing to receive new assignments in various locations within the Navy.