The U.S. Navy has sent two additional Cyclone-class patrol craft (PC) to U.S. 5th Fleet to increase U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf, U.S. Fleet Forces announced late Wednesday.
USS Hurricane (PC-3) and USS Monsoon (PC-4) left Naval Station Norfolk, Va. on Wednesday to join eight other PCs already stationed in Bahrain later this summer, a Fleet Forces spokesperson told USNI News on Thursday. The ten ships will operate as far afield as the Gulf of Oman.
“The primary mission of these ships is coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance, an important aspect of littoral operations outlined in the Navy’s maritime strategy,” according to the Wednesday statement from Fleet Forces.
In July 2013 the navy moved three PCs to Bahrain, bringing the total number of Cyclones in the region to eight.
The move, annouced last year, is part of a shift in presence in 5th Fleet to emphasize smaller less expensive ships, rather than larger U.S. warships.
The PCs are much smaller than the 9,000 ton Arleigh Burke destroyers (DDGs). The PCs weigh in at about 385 tons but are heavily armed for their size.
“Our numbers of DDGs we have out here have declined over the past year. [PCs] are picking up a lot of the missions they were doing, ” Destroyer Squadron 50 and Combined Task Force 55 (DESRON50/CTF-55) commander Capt. Joseph Naman told USNI News last year.
“It doesn’t mean we are going to do away with the DDG. They still have a mission here.”
For example, DDGs provide a mobile defense against ballistic missiles.
Despite the shift toward smaller craft in the region, destroyers and other U.S. ships can quickly enter the area.
Currently, the U.S. has nine major warships in the Persian Gulf — a six ship carrier strike group and a three ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).