USS Coronado departs San Diego on 1st deployment

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 21:54:17-04

The littoral combat ship USS Coronado left San Diego Wednesday for its maiden deployment.

The vessel, commissioned two years ago, will take part in an exercise and then head to the western Pacific Ocean, according to the Navy.

Coronado and its crew of about 70 sailors will participate in the multi-nation Rim of the Pacific exercise off Hawaii, known as RIMPAC.

"This ship will play a critical role in the fleet and in our nation's defense," said Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, U.S. Third Fleet commander. "RIMPAC provides a good opportunity for our partner navies to work with the ship and see how it can contribute to collective regional security."

Chief Mario Gutierrez said deployments are always hard, but he added, "But now with email and everything else, being able to communicate on social media …"

Amber Williams said goodbye to her husband, ET1 Adam Williams. She said the deployments are always hard, but it's easier living in San Diego where businesses and jobs understand and respect the military.

"We've lived in other places where it's not quite so caring but here in San Diego they seem to love us," she said.

At RIMPAC -- which will include ships, aircraft and personnel from 27 countries -- the Coronado is expected to become the first LCS to fire a Harpoon missile, an anti-ship weapon usually reserved for larger boats, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.

The Coronado will operate out of Singapore during the 16-month deployment portion of the voyage, with multiple crews rotating about every four months, the USNI reported.

Littoral combat ships are fast, agile vessels designed for operating in coastal waters. Their development was plagued by mechanical breakdowns that continued in initial deployments, and Navy leaders are considering ways to make them sturdier and more lethal.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, based at Naval Air Station North Island, will deploy with the ship with the MQ-8 Fire Scout drone helicopter.