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LCS conducts first overseas MCM training operations

USS Charleston conducted the first set of overseas mine-countermeasures operations. (US Navy)

The littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Charleston (LCS 18) recently completed the first set of overseas mine-countermeasures (MCM) training missions during a 26-month forward deployment in the Western Pacific, US Navy (USN) officials confirmed.

“The emphasis was showing we have the mission package capable of doing MCM not just inside US waters, but doing it outside US waters in conjunction with other units,” Commander Matthew Knuth, Charleston commanding officer, said on 21 June during a media roundtable briefing about the deployment.

The LCS MCM mission package and AN/AQS-20 sonar mine detection sets achieved initial operational capability (IOC), USN officials confirmed on 1 May.

“We used components of the [MCM] mission package,” Cdr Knuth added, citing specifically the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) used by the ship's MH-60S Seahawk helicopter.

Charleston also flew the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during the operations, Cdr Knuth said.

“We operated the Fire Scout in its role of surveillance and adapted it for some MCM capabilities,” Cdr Knuth said, citing the dual manned and unmanned aerial operations the ship conducted for both platforms simultaneously.

“We had EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] technicians aboard, too, to support training,” he said.

Charleston conducted training with US platforms and those operated by naval and allied partners, he noted.

The ship also integrated operations with the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), Cdr Knuth said.

“There were multiple mission sets, as with any surface combatant,” he said.

Charleston was proving its ability to prove surface combatant capabilities beyond MCM, he said.

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