The Coast Guard Legend-class National Security Cutter Hamilton last Thursday left Puerto Rico escorting service’s first two Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) that are headed to Manama, Bahrain in support of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The two 154-foot Sentinel-class FRCs, the Charles Moulthrope and Robert Goldman, will begin replacing six 110-foot Island-class patrol boats operating under the command of the Fifth Fleet supporting U.S. Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), which was established in 2002 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. PATFORSWA is the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside the U.S.
Eventually, the Coast Guard will send six FRCs to support PATFORSWA.
“We expect to showcase the capabilities of the Fast Response Cutter, and the U.S. Coast Guard to advance the share maritime strategy for security with the U.S. Navy and naval partners in the region, while concurrently engaging with them on the more traditional U.S. Coast Guard missions of search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, and illegal fisheries enforcement,” Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Blasé, commander officer of the Goldman, said in a statement.
After the 418-foot Hamilton completes its escort mission through the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal and on to Bahrain, it will return to the Navy’s Italy-based Sixth Fleet area of operations to patrol in support of the Navy and partners in Europe and Africa. The Hamilton’s forthcoming operations with the Sixth Fleet will mark the first time a National Security Cutter has operated with the Sixth Fleet.
The Coast Guard’s 270-foot medium-endurance cutters have previously supported the Sixth Fleet. National Security Cutters have patrolled in the Indo-Pacific region in support of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is a member of the Joint Force, a key and always-ready instrument to further national security objectives globally,” Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, said in a statement. “It’s been almost two decades since we sent the Island-class patrol boats to Bahrain. As we seek to modernize our asset support to the U.S. Navy in the Arabian Gulf, this is an excellent opportunity to advance partnerships and learn from our allies in the region.”