The US Navy announced today it has found "significant structural" damage and corrosion in its fleet of Cyclone-class patrol coastal vessels based in Norfolk, Va., and forward deployed to the 5th fleet in Bahrain.
According to the Navy, the vessels -- 10 in all -- are all "at or beyond" their 15-year service life and recent inspections revealed frame buckling and damage to the hulls.
The service said all PC operations have ceased pending repairs.
The PCs have lightweight structure designed for high performance and a service life of 15 years. With the exception of PC 14 they are all at or beyond their service life. The condition of the hull structure is the cumulative result of a full service life of operation including the effects of corrosion and severe operating conditions. It is not generally possible to identify one event or single root cause of the damage.The Navy is also coordinating with the Coast Guard to inspect the three vessels it's borrowing for domestic patrols. The Navy is also coordinating with the Philippine navy on the one PC it obtained in 2004.
The primary mission of these ships is coastal patrol, interdiction, and surveillance; an important aspect of littoral operations outlined in the Navy's strategy. The Cyclone-class PCs are particularly suited for maritime security missions and have been employed jointly with the U.S. Coast Guard to help protect our nation's coastline, ports and waterways from terrorist attack. The ships are also forward deployed to the Gulf region in support of 5th Fleet operations.One has to wonder if this 'grounding' puts in sharper contrast the failings of, and the need for, a littoral combat ship that can be deployed now.