- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2014

The deployment of the USS Fort Worth to Singapore includes a Navy first: an MQ-8B Fire Scout drone with a range of up to 100 miles.

The Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS 3, departed Thursday from San Diego and will spend 16 months in the Indian Ocean.

“The Navy wants to show the flag as much as possible to visit their ports, meet their people, and to conduct exchanges within their Navy,” U.S. Navy Commander Kendall Bridgewater told a local Fox affiliate ahead of the ship’s departure.

Capt. Ken Bridgewater, commanding officer of the USS Fort Worth told military.com on Thursday that the Fire Scout’s inclusion was the first time the Navy was bringing the drone “into the equation and matching it up with a manned helicopter squadron.”

The officer added that the aircraft would give his personnel added flexibility.

“The same pilots that fly an MH-60 helicopter can fly a mission, land on deck, come inside the ship and launch the Fire Scout and do another mission. […] The Fire Scout has a lot longer endurance so you can keep it up in the air a lot longer than we can keep a traditional manned MH-60,” Capt. Bridgewater said.

After stopping in Singapore, the USS Fort Worth will take part in a multi-national training exercise called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, or CARAT, military.com reported.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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