The US Coast Guard has taken delivery of USCGC Clarence Suthpin, the final of six cutters bound for operations from the service’s base in Manama, Bahrain.
Bollinger Shipyards, the builder of the FRCs, handed over the future USCGC Clarence Suthpin to the US Coast Guard in Key West, Florida.
This is the 170th vessel Bollinger has delivered to the US Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 47th FRC delivered under the current program.
Stationing FRCs in Bahrain supports Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the US, and its mission to train, organize, equip, support and deploy combat-ready Coast Guard forces in support of Central Command and national security objectives.
FRCs are replacing the aging 110’ Island-class patrol boats currently stationed in the region.
Earlier this year at the commissioning ceremony of the USCGC Charles Moulthrope, US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz lauded the “enhanced seakeeping” capabilities of the PATFORSWA-bound FRCs, saying “these ships are truly going to be game changing in their new theater of operations” and “offer increased opportunities for integrated joint operations with our Navy and Marine Corps colleagues” as the Coast Guard seeks to be part of the whole-of-government solution set in the region.
The Coast Guard has ordered 60 FRCs to date, with over forty in service. The current bases operating the vessels include Florida, Puerto Rico, California, Hawaii, Texas, New Jersey, Alaska, Mississippi and North Carolina. Three additional FRCs have been commissioned at their homeport of Guam. Future FRC homeports include Astoria, Oregon; and Kodiak, Seward and Sitka, Alaska.
Named after Coast Guard enlisted heroes, FRCs are equipped with advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems and boast a greater range and endurance. At 154-feet long, they reach speeds of over 28-knots covering a distance of 2,500 nautical miles over a five-day patrol. They are armed with a stabilized 25-mm machine gun mount and four crew-served .50-caliber machine guns.
Each FRC has a standard 24-person crew. This brings over 70 new Coast Guard members to Guam, along with their family members. Prior to the FRCs’ arrival, the Coast Guard presence on Guam was composed of approximately 250 active duty personnel and 40 reservists.