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US Navy boost presence in Arabian Gulf

New ships “ideal for working with partner navies in Gulf”

Image Credit: AFP
USS Thunderbolt (left) and USS Squall transit from Khalifa Bin Salman Port to Mina Salman Pier near Bahrain on Wednesday.The new US patrol coastal ships will support security cooperation efforts in the US Fifth Fleet area of responsibility.
Gulf News

Manama: The US Navy has boosted its force in the Arabian Gulf with three more patrol coastal (PC) ships.

The Tempest, Squall and Thunderbolt arrived in Bahrain on July 3, as part of a realignment that will see a total of eight patrol coastal ships permanently stationed in the US Fifth Fleet area of responsibility, the Navy said in a statement from Manama.

Hurricane and Monsoon will complete the Navy’s plan to station 10 PCs in Bahrain by the spring of 2014.

“Having additional PCs here in Bahrain will give us incredible flexibility in the Fifth Fleet area of operations since they are uniquely capable of operating in this dynamic environment,” Vice Adm. John W. Miller, commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, US Fifth Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces, said. “They will allow for continued maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation in the Fifth Fleet.”

PCs provide the US Navy with a fast, reliable platform that can respond to emergent requirements in a shallow water environment, the Navy said.

“These ships are ideal for working with partner navies in the Gulf,” Capt. Joseph Naman, commander, Destroyer Squadron 50, said. “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 PC crews alleviates the significant strain placed on the crews and their families while ensuring capacity and capability stays strong here in the AOR,” Naman said. “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 the summer of 2012 and the spring of 2013.

“We are committed to working with our seagoing partners in order to maintain

capabilities and capacities needed to meet theatre mission requirements

efficiently,” Miller said.

PCs have provided maritime security and force protection capability to US Fifth Fleet since 2003.

Commander, Patrol Coastal Squadron ONE and a maintenance and logistics support detachment will also permanently move from Virginia to Manama to provide direct support the PCs operating in Bahrain.

The US Fifth 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.