WASHINGTON - The first in a new class of US Navy combat ships will be sent to Singapore next year for a 10-month deployment, an official said Thursday, as the US moves to expand its Asia-Pacific presence.
"The USS Freedom will deploy to Singapore for 10 months in spring 2013," Navy Lieutenant Katie Cerezo said in an email to AFP.
The ship belongs to a new class of "littoral combat ships" -- smaller, surface vessels intended for operations close to shore and able to deploy quickly to crises that are part of a US strategy focusing on the Asia-Pacific.
The Navy said its force would eventually be equipped with 55 warships of this type, four of which could be deployed in Singapore.
The ships are meant to be deployed on a rotational basis and not based in Singapore, where the US military already operates a small post that assists in logistics and exercises for forces in Southeast Asia.
China's defense ministry has been scornful over increased American military activity in the region, saying it is proof of a "Cold War mentality" from Washington.
The United States is also expected to step up deployments to the Philippines and Thailand as part of its Asia-Pacific strategy.
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