Cyclones almost gone
Built in the late 1990s, the Navy’s Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships (PC) are almost all gone. Built by Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana, the same yard that has constructed over 170 similar albeit smaller cutters for the Coast Guard over the years, the 170-foot Cyclones were originally to replace the old 65-foot MKIIIs used by Naval Special Warfare and were equipped with two 25mm chain guns and a stern boat ramp for frogman use.
While 16 were planned, only 14 were slowly completed and the Navy by and large didn’t even really want them, loaning five to the Coast Guard in the early 2000s and giving the class leader to the Philippines when she was just 11 years old.
Then, following a series of naval stand-offs between Iranian Revolutionary Guards speedboats and U.S. Navy warships in the Strait of Hormuz in December 2007 and January 2008, the Pentagon called up the Coast Guard and pulled their boats back and soon stood up Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 in the Persian Gulf with 10 of the PCs.
The other three boats were stationed at Mayport, left behind as just about the 4th Fleet’s only regular assets.
They are among the smallest ships in the fleet and get ridden hard.
They were augmented with the MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System to help defend against Iranian swarm attacks if needed. The system uses the AGM-176 Griffin, a 35-pound four-foot-long Frankenstein cobbled together from the Javelin and Sidewinder– but it carries a 13-pound blast fragmentation warhead and has a range of 5 miles, which will scratch the paint job of a Boghammar speedboat pretty good while outraging the RPGs, Dhsk guns and unguided rockets typically carried by those asymmetric crafts by a bit.
Now, that has almost all come to an end. Only USS Monsoon (PC-4) and USS Chinook (PC-9) remain in Bahrain under Task Force 55, and that will soon change.
PCRON-1 was reflagged Naval Surface Squadron (CNSS) 5 in 2017.
USS Zephyr (PC-8), USS Shamal (PC-13), and USS Tornado (PC-14) were decommissioned in Mayport in 2021 and the first two are set to be scrapped with Tornado slated for transfer to an overseas ally.
USS Tempest (PC-2), USS Squall (PC-7), USS Firebolt (PC-10), USS Whirlwind (PC-11), and USS Typhoon (PC-5), were decommissioned and transferred to the Royal Bahrain Naval Forces in March 2022.
This week, USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Sirocco (PC-6), and USS Thunderbolt (PC-12) were transferred to the Egyptian Navy. This came after sailing from Bahrain to Egypt during a month-long journey around the Arabian Peninsula, January through February.
As noted by the Navy, “During the 4,000-mile transit to Alexandria, U.S., and Egyptian crewmembers worked side-by-side safely navigating the three ships on a voyage that included port visits to Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates; Duqm, Oman; Djibouti; and Berenice, Egypt.”
It seems that the Navy is content to let the Coast Guard’s new 158-foot Sentinel (Webber) class Fast Response Cutters be the white-hulled muscle for the 4th and 5th Fleet when it comes to coastal vessels.
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