The USS Charleston, an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, sails through San Diego Bay in transit to the ship's Naval Base San Diego home port. It is the 11th LCS to be homeported in San Diego. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Woody S. Paschall/U.S. Navy
April 22 (UPI) -- The USS Charleston, a littoral combat ship, has arrived at its San Diego homeport after completing its maiden voyage that began at the shipyard in Alabama.
The Independence-variant entered Naval Base San Diego on Friday after a 1 1/2-month trip from the East Coast. The Charleston was commissioned on March 2 in its namesake city in South Carolina. In 2017, it was christened at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.
In the past month and a half, the ship made port calls to Mayport, Fla.; Little Creek, Va.; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Mazatlan, Mexico as well as a successful transit through the Panama Canal, on its way to San Diego.
"I'm proud to say that the crew did a phenomenal job during Charleston's maiden voyage, working many long hours to execute the voyage safely," Cmdr. Christopher K. Brusca, Charleston's commanding officer, said in a news release Monday. "To get Charleston ready for delivery, we've been away from our families for nine months, but during that time, the crew maintained an infectious positivity throughout every aspect of bringing this ship to the fleet."
The ship falls under control of the Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One --- COMLCSRON ONE -- until the future LCS Mine Countermeasures Division is established on the West Coast.
"Charleston is a first-class ship with a first-class crew," said Capt. Matthew McGonigle, commander, COMLCSRON ONE. "With Charleston's arrival, we now have 11 littoral combat ships homeported in San Diego and we couldn't be more proud of the hard work and positivity our LCS crews continue to demonstrate every single day."
The Charleston is the ninth Independence-variant littoral combat ship, which consists of even-numbered hulls, and are manufactured by Austal USA, in Mobile, Ala. Lockheed Martin produces the Freedom variant in Marinette, Wis.
The ship, which is designated LCS-18, is the sixth Navy vessel to carry the name Charleston. It adopted South Carolina's motto -- "As I Breathe, I Hope" -- and made it its own adding a combative twist -- "As We Breathe, We Fight!"
LCSs are designed for operations in the littoral environment, but are fully capable of open ocean operations because of their high-speed, agility and shallow-draft. They can counter and outpace evolving threats independently or within a network of surface combatants, according to the Navy.