The US Coast Guard has received its last two of six Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRC), rounding out the 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain.
The latest vessels were commissioned as USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) in February and April 2022.
Both departed from Key West, Florida, in June and arrived at the Bahrain installation on August 23.
Each vessel measures 154 feet (47 meters) and is equipped with improved surveillance, advanced communication systems, and reconnaissance equipment.
Maritime Security in the Middle East
The Sentinel-class surface vessels are managed by Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the largest coast guard fleet operating outside the United States.
“This arrival represents the culmination of years of tireless effort and exceptional teamwork,” PATFORSWA Commander Capt. Eric Helgeb said. “These newest FRCs bring us to our full complement of six ships and mark the beginning of a new era of extraordinary maritime capability supporting U.S. 5th Fleet.”
The FRCs serve in securing and stabilizing maritime activities throughout the Middle East for the US Central Command.
“We are extremely excited to be here and look forward continuing to work with international partners in the region,” Clarence Stuphin Jr. Commanding Officer Lt. David Anderson said. “Completing this more than 10,000-nautical-mile transit to Bahrain has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The Fast Response Cutter
Integrating FRC ships into the service is part of a coast guard project to replace its aging Island-class patrol boats.
The FRC has a maximum speed of over 28 knots (32 miles/52 kilometers per hour) and a range of 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 kilometers).
The 24-crew vessel can conduct missions in moderate or rough seas for eight hours, carrying a 25-millimeter mounted machine gun and four .50-caliber machine guns.
The offshore fleet has shown the capability to operate independently on complex maritime missions, including coastal, waterway, and port security; search and rescue; fishery patrols; and national defense.
In 2021, FRCs were effectively utilized by the US Coast Guard across protected coastal zones to apprehend 105 suspected drug smugglers, intercept over 18,800 kilograms of cocaine, and rescue or interdict more than 1,800 irregular maritime migrants. The operations helped cut transnational criminal organizations’ profits by $787 million.