Two U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutters stopped in Alexandria, Egypt, for a scheduled port visit Jan 25, marking their arrival to U.S. 5th Fleet after departing Key West, Florida in November. USCGC Emlen Tunnel (WPC 1145) and USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) are two of the Coast Guard’s newest Sentinel-class fast response cutters slated for forward-deployment to Bahrain where U.S. 5th Fleet is headquartered. USCGC Emlen Tunnel (WPC 1145) and USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) will replace two of the Coast Guard’s existing Island-class patrol boats currently operating from Bahrain.
The Sentinel-class cutter, also known as Fast Response Cutter due to its program name, is part of the United States Coast Guard’s Deepwater program. At 154 feet (46.8 m) it is similar to, but larger than the 123-foot (37 m) lengthened 1980s-era Island-class patrol boats that it replaces. Up to 58 vessels are to be built by the Louisiana-based firm Bollinger Shipyards, using a design from the Netherlands-based Damen Group, with the Sentinel design based on the company’s Damen Stan 4708 patrol vessel. In addition to 58 vessels to serve the Continental US and an additional six vessels for its portion of Patrol Forces South West Asia.
The vessels will perform various Coast Guard missions which include but are not limited to PWCS (Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security), Defense Operations, Maritime Law Enforcement (Drug/migrant interdiction and other Law Enforcement), Search and Rescue, Marine Safety, and environment protection. The vessels are armed with a remote-control 25 mm Bushmaster autocannon and four crew-served .50-caliber (12.7 mm) M2HB heavy machine guns. The crew’s drinking water needs are met through a desalination unit. The crew mess is equipped with a television with satellite reception.
Modifications to the Coast Guard vessels from the Stan 4708 design include an increase in speed from 23 to 28 knots (43 to 52 km/h; 26 to 32 mph), fixed-pitch rather than variable-pitch propellers, stern launch capability, and watertight bulkheads. The cutters have a reduced radar cross-section through shaping. They have a bow thruster for maneuvering in crowded anchorages and channels. They also have small underwater fins, for coping with the rolling and pitching caused by large waves. They are equipped with a stern launching ramp. The Fast Response Cutter deploys the 26-foot (7.9 m) Cutter Boat – Over the Horizon (OTH-IV) for rescues and interceptions.