U.S. Navy sends more ships to Gulf for shallow water operations
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy has reported the arrival of three additional vessels in the Gulf.
The Navy said three coastal patrol boats arrived at Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. The Navy said the latest vessels brings to eight the upgraded coastal patrol fleet in the Gulf.
"They're perfectly suited for what we do," U.S. Navy Capt. Joseph Naman said. "There's a lot of shallow water out here."
In a conference call from Manama on July 3, Naman, commander of the Navy's Destroyer Squadron 50, said the boats would conduct maritime security operations in the Gulf region. He said the latest vessels, equipped with enhanced 25mm guns and laser-guided missiles, would work with Gulf Cooperation Council navies.
"The PCs are doing maritime security operations day-to-day here and in the Gulf of Oman," Naman said. "They identify illicit criminal activity and work with the GCC so they can take action. The ships protect critical infrastructure — oil platforms, distilling platforms, some of them in the middle of the Gulf."
Officials said the three patrol boats, identified as Tempest, Squall and Thunderbolt, would be ready for operations by mid-July. They said the boats could escort aircraft carriers and other large warships, threatened by Iranian fast attack craft.
The Navy plans to send another two more patrol vessels to Bahrain by the middle of 2014. Officials said the boats would reduce the need for the much larger destroyers.
"We're going to stretch out [destroyer] deployments," Naman said. "There will be some amount fewer than what we had in the heyday of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are trying to get back to a more long-term sustainable pace of deployment."