Patrol Coastal (PC) ships USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Squall (PC 7) and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) arrived pierside in Bahrain July 3, as part of a realignment that will see a total of eight PCs permanently stationed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
USS Hurricane (PC 3) and USS Monsoon (PC 4) will complete the Navy’s plan to station 10 PCs in Bahrain by spring of 2014.
“Having additional PCs here in Bahrain will give us incredible flexibility in the 5th Fleet area of operations since they are uniquely capable of operating in this dynamic environment,” said Vice Adm. John W. Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces. “They will allow for continued maritime security operations and theater security cooperation in the 5th Fleet.”
PCs provide the U.S. Navy with a fast, reliable platform that can respond to emergent requirements in a shallow water environment.
“These ships are ideal for working with partner navies in the Gulf,” said Capt. Joseph Naman, commander, Destroyer Squadron 50. “The navies and coast guard of our coalition partners operate similar craft, with similar systems and capability – that fosters better interoperability in the maritime domain.”
PCs in Bahrain will have permanent crews, allowing families to accompany their Sailors. The shift to permanent manning alleviates the significant strain the 6-month rotational crew model placed on the Sailors and their families.
“The shift to permanent PC crews alleviates the significant strain placed on the crews and their families while ensuring capacity and capability stays strong here in the AOR,” said Naman. “The well-being of our sailors and families is critical to the accomplishment of our missions.”
The small patrol coastal ships were transported via a heavy lift vessel, similar to mine countermeasure trans-oceanic transports in summer of 2012 and spring of 2013.
“We are committed to working with our seagoing partners in order to maintain capabilities and capacities needed to meet theater mission requirements efficiently,” said Miller.
PCs have provided dedicated maritime security and force protection capability to U.S. 5th Fleet since 2003.
Commander, Patrol Coastal Squadron ONE (PCRON 1) and a maintenance and logistics support detachment will also permanently move from Virginia to Bahrain to provide direct support the PCs operating here.
U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.