Littoral combat ships on patrol
The USS Montgomery (foreground) and USS Gabrielle Giffords in the South China Sea. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chris Roys

The Navy released a dramatic photo this week of two San Diego-based littoral combat ships patrolling the contested South China Sea.

The photo shows the trimaran-hull USS Montgomery and USS Gabrielle Giffords underway on Tuesday.

The Navy didn’t say precisely where the ships were patrolling, but China has sought to extend its territorial sovereignty by building artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The two ships are on rotational deployments to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, according to the Navy, and are conducting exercises with allied navies to provide maritime security and maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific. ”

Littoral combat ships are fast, stealthy surface vessels capable of operating in the littoral regions of the world. The 400-foot-long ships carry a main cannon, missiles and two helicopters.

They are being built in two versions — monohull and trimaran — with a total of 40 planned. All of the trimaran ships will be based in San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

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