Tag Archives: USS Sioux City (LCS 11)

Slumming it in the colonies

What an idyllic nautical scene! This image, posted by the Forces Armées de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, the French garrison in their of New Caledonia, is of the Floréal-class light surveillance frigate Vendémiaire (F734) tied up at her base at Noumea, that South Western Pacific colony’s primary port.

Vendémiaire just left Noumea last week on one of her regular two-month cruises around the West Pac.

The six Floreals, built in the early 1990s just after the end of the Cold War, are interesting 3,000-ton (full load) 306-foot ships that split the difference between a standard frigate and a Coast Guard cutter. Built with a diesel-only suite, rather than CODAG/DOG, they have a maximum speed of just 20 knots but can range over 9,000nm without searching for a tanker and pull into ports that can accommodate a 14-foot draft.

Their hulls were reportedly built to commercial standards, but that hasn’t stopped them from putting in three decades of solid overseas service and still looking good and well-maintained.

Armed with simple weapons pulled from retired platforms– a single 4-inch/55 cal CADAM Modèle 68 main gun, a pair of 20mm GIATs, and accommodation for some Exocets– they can also embark a light helicopter and a platoon of French Marines (who are notorious for being unable to take a joke).

Note her recognition “VN” marks on her helicopter deck, and her twin 20mm GIATs with ready boxes over the hangar. The vacant deck space behind her stack was originally for MM38 Exocets, but could always pick up a more modern AShM, such as the NSM.

Vendémiaire has spent almost her entire 29-year career at Nouméa while her sisterships Floréal and Nivôse are based at Réunion– the French Indian Ocean colony between Mauritius and Madagascar– Prairial at Tahiti (what a horrible duty station!) while Ventôse and Germinal are at Martinique in the Caribbean, with the latter two vessels often supporting U.S. 4th Fleet training, humanitarian, and counter-drug initiatives.

Shorter and slower than the more expensive LCS concept, they also can provide NGFS in the littoral if needed, though arguably are even more prone to air attack. 

MARTINIQUE, FRANCE (June 23, 2021) The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) conducts a bilateral maritime exercise with the French Navy Floréal-class frigate FS Germinal (F735) following a port visit to Martinique, France, June 23, 2021. Sioux City is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marianne Guemo)

The More Things Change, Forward Mount Edition

The guns may have shrunk, along with the ships, but the task remains.

Bluejackets standing atop turret No. 1 to clean the 12-inch/50 caliber Mark 7 guns in turret No. 2 aboard the brand new dreadnought battleship USS Wyoming (BB-32), circa 1913, likely during winter fleet gunnery practice off Puerto Rico. Wyoming carried six such Mark 9 twin turrets on her centerline and, as with coaling, was surely a massive undertaking to maintain her extensive fire-belching batteries.

Official caption: Sailors assigned to the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11), and the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 3, conduct maintenance on the 57mm MK 110 gun while the ship is in port Ponce, Puerto Rico for a brief stop for fuel and provisions, May 12, 2021. Sioux City is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marianne Guemo/Released)

Navy establishes Squadron for ships that don’t exist yet

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 28, 2009) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) conducts flight deck certification with an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Sea Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Laird/Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 28, 2009) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) conducts flight deck certification with an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Sea Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Laird/Released)

Yesterday the Navy stood up Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 2  with an O-6 in command (Capt. Paul Young) of what is expected to be 900 bluejackets of various rates and ranks.

LCSRON 2, located in Mayport (they traded a carrier for this?!) will consist of the Marinette Marine Corporation  built Freedom-type littoral combat ships USS Little Rock (LCS 9), USS Sioux City (LCS 11), USS Wichita (LCS 13), USS Billings (LCS 15), USS Indianapolis (LCS 17), and the yet to be named– or even officially ordered– LCS 19.

The thing is, none of these are currently in commission with only the first two even being laid down. With a three year lead time on these ships from the builder, its likely that LCSRON 2 wont see its first hull till sometime in late 2016 and likely will not be at full strength until sometime around 2020.

Nevertheless, “Construction is currently underway for a two-story logistics-support facility that will house classrooms, an operations work space, a reference library, office spaces for the ship crews when they are not shipboard, video teleconference rooms, and a crew lounge.”