Tag Archives: USCGC Monomoy

Three less Islands…

In PATFORSWA, the Coast Guard’s now 20-year-long mission in the Persian Gulf/Straits of Hormuz/Gulf of Oman, a trio of its longest-serving patrol boats– 110-foot Island-class WPBs– have been quietly put to pasture.

Via USCG PAO:

Yesterday three Island-class patrol boats were decommissioned in a ceremony at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

Rear Adm. Keith Smith, deputy commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, attended the ceremony and commemorated 102 years of combined active service by USCGC Maui, Monomoy, and Wrangell.

“For nearly two decades, these cutters and the Coast Guardsmen that crewed them have worked closely with our U.S. Naval Forces Central Command partners and served as the heart of Coast Guard operations in the Middle East,” said Smith.

Maui was originally homeported in Miami and conducted counter-narcotics and other law enforcement activities near the United States for 18 years.

Monomoy was previously homeported in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The ship helped secure New York City’s harbor immediately following the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2004, Maui and Monomoy arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet region where they have remained for the next 18 years in support of U.S. 5th Fleet maritime security operations.

Previously homeported in Portland, Maine, Wrangell conducted counter-narcotics and maritime patrol operations along the East Coast of the United States before deploying to the Middle East in 2003.

With the retirement of these three patrol boats, and the looming retirement next month of stateside sisters such as USCGC Cuttyhunk (WPB-1322), few of the 110s remain in inventory as the new and much more capable 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters (designated WPCs) are slated to replace the Island-class.

110 foot Island class cutters compared to the new 154-foot Sentinel (Webber) class FRCs

But that doesn’t mean PATFORSWA is going away. Six of the new Sentinel-class FRCs are headed there to replace the retired Islands on a hull-for-hull basis, with three already in theatre.

Coast Guard fast response cutters Glen Harris (WPC 1144), Wrangel (WPB 1332), Emlen Tunnel (WPC 1145), Maui (WPB 1304), transiting the Gulf of Oman Feb. 26

Coast Guard fast response cutters Glen Harris (WPC 1144), Wrangel (WPB 1332), Emlen Tunnel (WPC 1145), Maui (WPB 1304), transiting Gulf of Oman Feb. 26

Besides their stabilized MK 38 25mm gun and half-dozen M2 mounts, the FRCs headed to Bahrain are equipped with the CG-HALLTS system, a hailer that has laser and LRAD capabilities, as well as a special S-band Sierra Nevada Modi RPS-42 pulse doppler with full-time 360-degree coverage, and other goodies to include four Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) on the O-1 deck. Additionally, the already experienced cutter and boarding crews of PATFORSWA have to go through 5-6 weeks of Pre Deployment Training (PDT) with the service’s Special Mission Training Center at Camp Lejune.

Headed to work, 16 years ago today

Here we see the Hamilton-class U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas (WHEC-716) as she escorts the motor vessel BBC Spain. Aboard Spain‘s deck are a quartet of USCG 110-foot Island-class patrol boats headed via the Mediterranean and Suez for deployment to the Persian Gulf, March 19, 2003.

While Dallas was stricken and transferred to the Philippines in 2012– where she continues to serve in a haze gray scheme as BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16)— and BBC Spain is now the Russian-flagged cargo vessel S. Kuznetsov — those four patrol boats are still under the same flag in the Persian Gulf, clocking in.

USCG Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), established in 2002 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the U.S. The original four WPBs shown above on SpainAdak, Aquidneck, Baranof, and Wrangell– were joined by Monomoy and Maui in May 2004 bringing the number of 110s in the Arabian Gulf to six.

Why?

The Navy likes to use the Coast Guard’s small patrol boats (110s/87s) in confined littoral areas as the coasties have them while the Navy simply doesn’t. After all, why risk a $1 billion destroyer with a 300-man crew when the USCG has an $8 million patrol boat with a 22-man crew that can get in closer and already has hundreds of (often high-risk) boardings under their belt before they rotate into the Gulf.

Plus (and this is just my humble opinion) it would look worse if the Iranians shoot up a white hulled coastie than a haze gray warship. I mean these are lifesavers here.

180201-N-TB177-0211 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (Feb. 1, 2018) Island-class patrol boats USCGC Wrangell left, USCGC Aquidneck (WPB 1309), middle, and coastal patrol ship USS Firebolt (PC 10) patrol the open seas. Wrangell, Aquidneck, and Firebolt are forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin J. Steinberg/Released)

They did the same thing in Vietnam when some 26 82-foot Point-class cutters served as an assembled Patrol Squadron off the South Vietnamese coast from 1965 to 1970.

Since 2002, the Coast Guard has forward deployed six of their WPBs to Manama, Bahrain to serve in the Persian Gulf littoral. After all these boats can stay at sea for a week at a time, have a cutter boat, a decent surface search radar, can make 29-knots, and float in just 7 feet of seawater– which the Big Blue has a hard time pulling off. The force is very active, typically having 3-4 patrol boats underway in the Gulf at any given time looking for pirates, smugglers, terrorists out to pull off another USS Cole-style attack, and, well, the Iranians.

USCGC Monomoy in the PG, looking a bit more hard-ridden and heavily armed.

Whereas normally Island-class cutters deploy stateside with a 16 man (2 officer/14 enlisted) crew, those that are part of PATFORSWA typically run with a 22 person complement (3 officers/19 enlisted) as they conduct more high-risk boardings and have an increased ship’s battery. The stateside armament suite of a 110 is a 25mm Mk38 chain-gun (which is usually covered) and two single M2 .50-cal BMGs (which often are locked up below in the armory) plus a thin smattering of small arms.

Those cutters in the Gulf still use the 25mm (usually very much uncovered and loaded, ready to go) and up to five mounts for Mk19 Grenade launchers and *twin* M2’s for quite a bit more punch against boghammars and armed dhows if needed. Likewise, there are more M4s, Remmy 870s, hard plate body armor and Sig P229Rs on these forward-deployed ships than one that is poking around the Outer Banks.

Nevertheless, they still keep the same traditional white hull and red racing stripe, but with the welcome addition of a deck canopy to keep that Persian Gulf sun at bay and the non-skid from heating up to waffle-iron temperatures.

NORTH ARABIAN GULF–U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Maui (WPB 1304) is on standby as the Close Support Vessel during a security boarding in the North Arabian Gulf, Aug. 11. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ltjg. Peter Lang.

 

Coasties give the Iranians something to ponder

It was reported earlier this week that a small boat crew from the 110-foot Island class patrol boat USCGC Monomoy (WPB-1326) gave the Iranian Navy/Revolutionary Guard a proverbial bloody nose.

It seems while attempting to perform a boarding, the crew of an Iranian dhow trained a .50 caliber (likely .51-caliber combloc Dshk or similar) heavy machine gun on said small boat and charged the weapon. This led to the crew firing a warning shot in the general direction of the dhow, who broke contact.

No casualties are known on the Iranian side while the cutter recovered their away boat without further incident.

Persian Gulf (April 27, 2005) – Coast Guardsmen aboard U.S Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy (WPB 1326) wave good-bye to the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 74) after the first underway fuel replenishment (UNREP) between a U.S. Navy cruiser and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter. Antietam completed fuel replenishment with the Monomoy in about two hours and saved the 110-foot patrol boat a four-hour trip to the nearest refueling station. Antietam and Monomoy are conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf as part of Commander, Task Force Five Eight CTF-58). U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Joseph Ebalo (RELEASED)
Why is the Coast Guard in the Gulf?

The Navy likes to use the Coast Guard’s small patrol boats (110s/87s) in confined littoral areas as the coasties have them while the Navy simply doesn’t.

After all, why risk a $1 billion destroyer with a 300-man crew when the USCG has a $8 million patrol boat with a 22-man crew that can get in closer and already has hundreds of (often high-risk) boardings under their belt before they rotate into the Gulf.

Plus (and this is just my humble opinion) it would look worse if the Iranians shoot up a white hulled coastie than a haze gray warship. I mean these are lifesavers here.

They did the same thing in Vietnam when some 26 82-foot Point class cutters served as an assembled Patrol Squadron off the South Vietnamese coast from 1965 to 1970.

Since 2002 the Coast Guard has forward deployed six of their 110-foot Island Class patrol boats (WPB) to Manama, Bahrain to serve in the Persian Gulf littoral. After all these boast can stay at sea for a week at a time, have a cutter boat, a decent surface search radar, can make 29-knots, and float in just 7 feet of seawater– which the Big Blue has a hard time pulling off. This force formalized in 2004 as Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) and is very active, typically having 3-4 patrol boats underway in the Gulf at any given time looking for pirates, smugglers, terrorists out to pull off another USS Cole-style attack, and, well, the Iranians.

Whereas normally Island class cutters deploy stateside with a 16 man (2 officer/14 enlisted) crew, those that are part of PATFORSWA typically run with a 22 person complement (3 officers/19 enlisted) as they conduct more high-risk boardings and have an increased ship’s battery. The stateside armament suite of a 110 is a 25mm Mk38 chain-gun (which is usually covered) and two single M2 .50-cal BMGs (which often are locked up below in the armory) plus a thin smattering of small arms.

110-WPB
USCGC Knight Island (WPB-1348), a stateside based 110 operating out of Key West. Note the wrapped 25mm, no visible machine guns, showroom spotless.

Those cutters in the Gulf still use the 25mm (very much uncovered and loaded, ready to go) and up to five mounts for Mk19 Grenade launchers and *twin* M2’s for quite a bit more punch against boghammars and armed dhows if needed. Likewise there are more M16s, Remmy 870s, hard plate body armor and Sig P229Rs on these forward deployed ships that one that is poking around the Outer Banks.

Monomoy in the PG, looking a bit more, hard-ridden and heavily armed.

Monomoy in the PG, looking a bit more hard-ridden and heavily armed.

Nevertheless, they still keep the same traditional white hull and red racing stripe, but with the welcome addition of a deck canopy to keep that Persian Gulf sun at bay and the non-skid from heating up to waffle-iron temperatures.

In an odd twist of fate, it was the Monomoy who rescued six Iranian sailors in the Gulf in 2012 when their dhow sank at sea.

You just can’t win.