The embarked crew of the littoral combat ship Coronado, forward deployed to Singapore, was supposed to be home for Thanksgiving after a four- or five-month tour. But now the crew has been on board and overseas for eight months and there is no end in sight.
About 70 sailors compose Crew 204, which deployed in June for the Rim of the Pacific exercise and to replace the LCS Fort Worth at Changi Naval Base. But once the Coronado and her crew arrived in Singapore, the Navy’s top Surface Warfare Officer announced a sweeping overhaul to the LCS program's training standards that was spurred by a string of accidents, some of which were caused by crew errors.
The shakeup has delayed getting the Coronado's replacement crew qualified and could extend the ship's deployment length to as long as a year, according to two family members who spoke to Navy Times. That would be one of the longest Navy deployments in decades. The fact that nobody knows exactly when it will end has eroded crew morale and put an enormous strain on families.
“I’ve done six-month deployments in the past many times,” one family member said. “But I’ve never seen anything like this, this LCS [squadron]. What makes it so bad is that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Both family members, who spoke to Navy Times on condition of anonymity to avoid consequences for their loved ones, said the uncertainty had tanked the morale of the crew.
“It’s bad,” a second family member agreed, when asked about morale on board. For the loved ones back home, the deployment has been especially hard because of the limited information coming to them from the crew.
At least one family member reported that the command had not been diligent about keeping families informed about the status of the crew and the projected homecoming.
Officials with Naval Surface Force Pacific acknowledged that Crew 204's deployment is difficult and thanked them for their work and said that the prolonged deployment was necessary while the program gets on its feet again. (end of excerpt)
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