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Navy’s First Littoral Combat Ship to Make Stop in Hawaii

The U.S. Pacific Fleet announced today that the Navy’s first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) will depart her homeport of San Diego on March 1 and deploy to the Asia-Pacific region.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 22, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California. Freedom, the lead ship of the Freedom variant of LCS, is expected to deploy to Southeast Asia this spring. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 22, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California. Freedom, the lead ship of the Freedom variant of LCS, is expected to deploy to Southeast Asia this spring. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans/Released)

Making good on a pledge made initially by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the 2011 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Freedom will deploy to Southeast Asia and Singapore for approximately eight months. Marking the first of many planned rotational deployments to the Western Pacific for the new LCS platform, Freedom will conduct maritime security operations with regional partners and allies.

“Freedom’s maiden deployment is another clear signal of the Navy’s enduring commitment to maintain security and stability in the vital Asia-Pacific region,” said Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Rotationally deploying our new littoral combat ships improves our warfighting capability and directly supports the Navy’s rebalance strategy to the Asia-Pacific.

“Even in the face of potential budget cuts, there should be no doubt that the U.S. Pacific Fleet remains on watch and that we will continue to deploy our most capable units forward to operate with our allies and partners.”

After making initial port visits in Hawaii and Guam, Freedom is expected to participate in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) in Singapore and in select phases of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series in Southeast Asia.

During the first-ever LCS deployment, Freedom will demonstrate her operational capabilities and allow the Navy to evaluate crew rotation and maintenance plans. Fast, agile, and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. Freedom will be initially manned by her “Gold” crew of 91 Sailors to include mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.

“We are genuinely excited about our deployment,” said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, Freedom’s Gold Crew commanding officer. “The men and women of Freedom have worked extremely hard to get us to where we are today, and I couldn’t be prouder. We’re ready to get out there, work with regional navies and show the world what this ship can do.”

Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway through Freedom’s deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her “Blue” crew, commanded by Cmdr. Patrick C. Thien.

Big Island Coffee Growers Favor APEC Free Trade Deal

Earlier this week, Barack Obama, the US president, announced plans to create a free trade agreement with some Asia-Pacific countries during an Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Hawaii.

The decision comes as coffee growers in the US state struggle to keep their generations-old businesses going.

A Kona Coffee Grower say Asian markets are "willing to pay more for a good product than the average American Citizen".

Big Island growers say they are in favor of the proposed deal because Asian markets are “willing to pay more for a good product than the average American citizen”.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/BEi2JZIb4AQ]

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane reports from Honolulu, Hawaii.

President Obama Meets With China’s President Hu at APEC 2011

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to extend a warm welcome to President Hu as he attends this APEC Summit, and we are glad to host him and the other world leaders who are attending.

This will be the first extensive discussions that we’ve had since our very successful state visit by President Hu to Washington.

As we emphasized at that state visit, as two of the world’s largest countries and largest economies, cooperation between the United States and China is vital not only to the security and prosperity of our own people but is also vital to the world.

Such cooperation is particularly important to the Asia Pacific region, where both China and the United States are extraordinarily active.  We are both Pacific powers.  And I think many countries in the region look to a constructive relationship between the United States and China as a basis for continued growth and prosperity.

As we did at the G20 in Cannes, President Hu and I I’m sure will be discussing issues related to economic growth, how we can continue to rebalance growth around the world, emphasize the importance of putting people back to work, and making sure that the trade relationships and commercial relationships between our two countries end up being a win-win situation.

And I look forward to the opportunity to also discuss a range of both regional and global security issues, including nonproliferation and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, ways that we can work together on issues like climate change, and our efforts to jointly assure that countries like Iran are abiding by international rules and norms.

And although there are areas where we continue to have differences, I am confident that the U.S.-China relationship can continue to grow in a constructive way based on mutual respect and mutual interests.  And I want to extend my appreciation to President Hu for the continuous engagement not only of him but also of the entire Chinese government in addressing a wide range of these issues.

So, welcome, President Hu, and I look forward to not only a good discussion here but also an outstanding APEC Summit.

PRESIDENT HU:  (As interpreted.)  I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for your warm invitation and welcome.  I’m delighted to have this opportunity to come to the beautiful state of Hawaii to attend the APEC economic leaders meeting and to meet with you, Mr. President.

This is the ninth meeting between you and I, Mr. President, since you took office, and I look forward to a extensive and in-depth discussion on China-U.S. relations, as well as major regional and international issues of shared interest.

As things stand, the international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes.  There is growing instability and uncertainty in the world economic recovery, and regional security threat has become more salient.  Under these circumstances, it is all the more important for China and the United States to increase their communication and coordination.

China looks forward to maintaining and strengthening dialogue and cooperation with the United States, to respect each other’s major concerns, appropriately manage sensitive issues, and ensure that the China-U.S. relationship will continue to grow on a sustainable and stable path.

This APEC meeting has drawn a lot of attention worldwide and we appreciate the tremendous work the United States has done in preparing for this meeting.  The Asia Pacific region is the most dynamic region in today’s world, with the biggest development potential.  This region should become a region of active cooperation between China and the United States.

I sincerely wish this meeting a full success, and I hope that this meeting here will send out a positive message to the international community that economies in the Asia Pacific region will reach out to each other like passengers on the same boat, and work together to ensure the continued, steady growth of the economies.

Thank you once again, Mr. President.