Junior LCS Sailors Forge a New Frontier in Middle East

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark Thomas Mahmod and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Russell | July 28, 2022

MANAMA, Bahrain --

Littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet operating area May 28, marking the first time a littoral combat ship deployed to the Middle East.

The crew of 75 operated in support of Combined Maritime Forces, the largest naval partnership in the world, and conducted several port visits and engagements with international partners.

Though Sailors aboard Sioux City have different ratings and responsibilities, their combined effort made the historic undertaking achievable.

Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Rudy Nieves, from Cleveland, Ohio, said teamwork made it easy to accomplish important tasks during the deployment.

“In my job, I’m responsible for launching the rigid hull inflatable boat and I play a part in flight operations,” said Nieves. “We as a team make sure all of those evolutions run smoothly because those warfare areas are an essential part of how Sioux City fits into U.S. 5th Fleet.”

He said working with his team made even the toughest jobs possible.

“One of my biggest challenges was bringing a tanker alongside to refuel while we were pierside,” said Nieves. “We overcame this through teamwork, communication, and overall laser focus to make sure that everyone was safe on board.”

Major shipboard operations aren’t the only challenges Sioux City’s junior Sailors faced. One of Nieves’ shipmates, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Yesenia Perez, from Columbus, Ohio, maintains the ship’s weapons systems. She took advantage of her time on the historic deployment to earn her enlisted warfare qualifications.

“Working on my [Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification] and [Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist qualification] during this deployment, I learned to never be afraid to ask questions,” said Perez. “If I need help, there’s always a shipmate there to help support me. I’m proud to make history alongside this crew.”

Damage Controlman Fireman Alejandro Soto has been in the Navy for less than two years. He said being without his friends and family in Santa Ana, California, was the most difficult part of operating in U.S. 5th Fleet.

“The biggest challenge I’ve encountered during this deployment is being homesick,” said Soto. “I’ve overcome this by knowing that I have their support and that I’ll be home soon with the people that I love most.”

Despite his homesickness, Soto said serving aboard Sioux City has given him valuable knowledge and new experiences that will serve him in his personal life and naval career.

“I’m just a kid from California who’s here to support his shipmates and help ‘Forge a New Frontier’,” said Soto.

‘Forging a New Frontier’ is the motto of Sioux City, and it’s something they’ve done throughout their historic deployment. Soto, Perez, and Nieves all reiterated it’s something that makes them feel a sense of accomplishment.

“I’m proud to be playing a vital part in helping operate the first LCS in the 5th Fleet,” said Nieves. “This operation will bring forth a new chapter in the Navy and help discover how the littoral combat ship will make its name east of the Prime Meridian. We are truly living our Ship’s motto.”