National Defense Magazine has published an article about the Navy’s Coastal Patrol Craft, primarily focusing on those based in Bahrain, but also discussing how those in the US might be used. The Coast Guard’s Patrol Boats in the Gulf are also mentioned.
Perhaps the most interesting item in the article was that two of the PCs are now equipped with unmanned aerial systems (UAS). If it fits on the Cyclone class it will almost certainly fit on the Webber class WPCs.
Because the Navy no longer rotates crews between the US and the Persian Gulf the three Navy PCs still based in the US have been moved to Jacksonville and may be made available to support CG drug enforcement missions.
They talk about the addition of Griffin missile system to the Cyclone class which we have discussed previously.
For me the topic inevitably raises some questions. Both the Navy’s Cyclone class and the CG 110s at Bahrain will need to be replaced at some point.
The Navy has done extensive service life extensions on the Cyclone class in hopes of giving them a 30 year service life. All of these boats except one entered service between 1993 and January 1996. Meaning they have to start funding their replacements in approximately FY2019. The LCS were officially their replacements, but reading the article, it is apparent the LCS can’t do many of the things the Cyclone class are currently doing simply because they are too big. Might the Navy be interested in their own version of the Webber class?
All the 110s will be 30 years old by 2022. The earliest the 58 planned Webber class could be finished would be 2022 assuming building six per year, but it is much more likely to be 2026 or later.
It would probably be in the Coast Guard’s interest for the Navy to also build Webber class PBs. Probably the only way that could happen is if they saw it in operation in the Persian Gulf. Replacing the six WPBs in Bahrain with Webber class by the end 2017 would give the ships a chance to demonstrate their capabilities.
Webber class WPCs assigned to the 5th Fleet should be upgraded in ways similar to the changes made to the Cyclone class, including the addition of Griffin missiles. It would be an opportunity to see if the Webbers could fulfill the missions of the Cyclone class. It would also be an opportunity to see how the other Webbers might be upgraded.