Littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords heads to Pacific with ship-killing weaponry

The USS Gabrielle Giffords left San Diego on Tuesday, a relatively small vessel built for shallow-water maneuverability but carrying missiles noted for precision, quick enemy detection and a range of over 100 nautical miles. A similarly equipped LCS, the USS Montgomery, was deployed to the Pacific Fleet in June. The missiles transform the ships from under-armed to a legitimate threat to warships, notably those of China.

The ships’ deployment to what is essentially China’s sphere of interest is a sign that the U.S. Navy is gradually increasing its power and presence in the Pacific Ocean. Tensions have been rising over China’s maritime claims, enforced by its military branches. The Navy has accelerated its freedom-of-navigation demonstrations, in which ships sail within 12 miles of a Chinese-claimed territory to demonstrate that maritime law allows it. The U.S. Navy’s plans to have 35 LCS will make the vessel a large part of its surface fleet; 17, in various configurations, have been delivered.

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