Up close and personal with the USS Freedom

Latest naval vessel equipped for warfare, countermeasures

Published  9:02 PM HST Mar 12, 2013
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -

The U.S. Navy's first coastal combat ship made a brief stop in Hawaii this week.

The USS Freedom docked in Pearl Harbor on Monday before continuing on its maiden deployment to Southeast Asia.

The ship is 378-feet-long and weighs 727 tons.  The latest vessel in the U.S. naval fleet is equipped for surface warfare, attacking submarines and mine countermeasures.

"It provides a lot to the U.S. because of its adaptable nature," said Lt. JG Grant Daiss.  "The conventional war that we've seen over the years doesn't really exist in the same fashion because the ship is so flexible it provides a great asset to the Navy."

The USS Freedom is flexible because it is smaller and faster than other naval combat ships.

"We can go to 40-plus knots.  At that speed, our water jets can drain and Olympic-sized pool in three seconds," said Ensign Charlie Hasenbank.  "We are throwing a lot of water in the direction we want to go."

The ship is based in San Diego and is on its way to Singapore.  Ninety-one sailors will spend eight months providing maritime security and military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

On board the vessel is a Seahawk helicopter with four mounted machine guns and a cannon.

"Shoots 57 mm rounds at a rate of 220 rounds per minute, so if we are out of rounds we are able to put down the reigns very quick," said Cmdr. Tim Wilke.

The ship will leave Pearl Harbor on Thursday and head to Guam, then the Philippines.

The ship also has surface-to-air missile capabilities.  For Ensign Hasenbank, who helped bring in the ship into Pearl Harbor, this maiden deployment fulfills a long-time family legacy.

"Both of my grandfathers were naval aviators and my dad a naval patrol man back in the 1950s.  I am proud to live out that family legacy and be part of something so significant for the U.S. Navy," said Hasenbank.

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