Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Latest on historic Korea summit | Trump says 'many people' interested in VA job | Pompeo thinks Trump likely to leave Iran deal Should Mike Pompeo be confirmed? Intel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security MORE on Sunday toured the Navy’s first littoral combat ship, the USS Freedom, docked at Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

Hagel thanked the crew and said the ship’s presence in the Pacific was a “big deal for our country, and a big deal for you,” according to the Pentagon.

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“What you represent to our country and our partnerships in the Asia-Pacific I don’t think can be overstated. You are really defining a new era of partnership,” said the secretary.

The Freedom is participating in naval exercises with U. S. allies in the region.

The Navy’s littoral combat ships are seen as a centerpiece of the fleet’s future plans, but cost overruns for the program have invited criticism from lawmakers, some of whom have suggested the Pentagon should cancel the project.

The program has also been plagued with a number of technical issues, including one incident in which a ship headed to Singapore lost engine power.

The heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sens. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE (D-Mich.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril McCain calls on Trump to rescind family separation policy: It's 'an affront to the decency of the American people' Senate passes 6B defense bill MORE (R-Ariz.) in April called for the Government Accountability Office to review the program.

Hagel’s tour of the littoral combat ship comes amid the twenty-seven nation Shangri-La Security Dialogue, an annual conference, which he is attending for the first time as Defense secretary.

The Obama administration has sought to shift its military focus to the Asia-Pacific theater, following the end of the Iraq war and the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

In a speech on Saturday, Hagel said that 60 percent of U.S. naval forces would be deployed in the Pacific by 2020. But the administration has sought to reassure China that the moves are not meant as a counter to Beijing.

“The United States welcomes and supports a prosperous and successful China that contributed to regional and global problem solving,” said Hagel.

Hagel also addressed the growing threat from Chinese cyberattacks on U.S. government and business computer systems, urging China to help set up “international norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace.”