US Navy and Jamaica Coast Guard conduct live firing exercise in Caribbean Sea

According to information published by the United States Department of Defense on April 9, 2021, the U.S. Navy Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) and Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel HMJS Cornwall conducted a live-fire exercise in the Caribbean Sea on April 9, 2021.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) and Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard patrol vessel HMJS Cornwall sail in formation during a live-fire exercise on April 9, 2021. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

The USS Wichita (LCS-13) is a Freedom-class littoral combat ship in service with the United States Navy. She was acquired by the US Navy from Lockheed Martin and the Marinette Marine shipyard on 22 August 2018 along with USS Sioux City in a double delivery. The ship was christened and launched on 17 September 2016.

The Freedom-class is one of two classes of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, built for the United States Navy. The ship is a semi-planning steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure. It has a length of 115 m, displaces 3,500 tons, and can a top speed of 47 knots (87 km/h). The design incorporates a large, reconfigurable seaframe to allow rapidly interchangeable mission modules, a flight deck with integrated helicopter launch, recovery and handling system, and the capability to launch and recover manned and unmanned boats from both the stern and side.

The USS Wichita is armed with one BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm naval gun, RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles, Honeywell Mark 50 torpedo, four 12.7 mm heavy machine guns. She can be fitted with up to two Mk44 Bushmaster 30 mm guns and "Longbow" Hellfire missiles as part of the surface warfare (SuW) package.

The HMJS Cornwall is County-class offshore patrol vessel operates by the Jamaican Coast Guard. The ship is based on the design of the Stan 4207 designed by the Dutch Shipyard Damen.

Gunners from both ships shot hundreds of rounds at a floating training target. Formally known as a naval gunnery target balloon, the target is endearingly known as a “killer tomato.”

While it was the first live-fire exercise, this was Cornwall’s second interoperability exercise with a U.S. Navy warship this year. In February, Cornwall conducted a passing exercise with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95).

The USS Wichita is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.