A Sailor on the bridge of the USS Fort Worth as it enter Thai waters. Navy photo

The San Diego-based littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth arrived in Phuket, Thailand, for the first time last week for a scheduled port visit.

The visit allows the crew of the independently deployed ship the opportunity to experience the local culture and customs, enjoy a variety of recreational activities and participate in a community service event.

“I first visited Phuket 15 years ago and it’s great to be back,” said Cmdr. Michael Atwell, Fort Worth’s commanding officer. “I know our Sailors will enjoy it here and this is a great way for them to be good ambassadors of the United States while meeting the warm and friendly people of Thailand.”

In an effort to increase integration between the U.S. and partner nations in Southeast Asia, Fort Worth embarked one naval officer from Sri Lanka and one coast guard officer from the Maldives prior to making the transit to Phuket. The embarked officers stood watch with the crew of Fort Worth and participated in underway operations, gaining firsthand knowledge of what life is like on the Navy’s newest class of ship.

Fort Worth is the second littoral combat ship to deploy as part of an initiative for up to four rotational deployments of these ships simultaneously to the 7th Fleet in the coming years. Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare.

The Navy is building 40 of the ships in two classes, with the first 16 to be based in San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.