Vice Adm. Paul Thomas, Coast Guard deputy commandant for mission support, and Ambassador Andrés Durán Hareau, Uruguay ambassador to the United States, commemorated the upcoming transfer of three 87-foot Protector-class patrol boats to Uruguay in a ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Uruguay was selected to receive former Coast Guard Cutters Albacore, Cochito, and Gannet by the Navy International Programs Office and signed a $5 million Letter of Offer and Acceptance Dec. 15, 2021. The transfer is facilitated through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) Program of the Coast Guard’s Office of International Acquisition.
Thomas called the transfer a win-win situation, helping Uruguay to swiftly enhance its maritime security while achieving the goals of both nations. He said the patrol boats are still a crucial asset in the Coast Guard fleet, with 64 still in operation. The former cutters will undergo maintenance, upgrades, and outfitting at Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore. Members of the Uruguay Navy will also be trained in the operation and maintenance of the vessels. Once work on the vessels and training is complete, the Uruguay Navy crewmembers will sail the patrol boats to Uruguay, with arrival anticipated in July 2022.
The Marine Protector class is a class of coastal patrol boats of the United States Coast Guard. The 87-foot-long vessels are based on the Stan 2600 design by Damen Group, and were built by Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, Louisiana. Each boat is named after sea creatures which fly or swim. The Coast Guard placed its original order in 1999 for 50 boats, which were delivered by mid-2002. Several additional orders brought the class to a total of 74 ships, with the last, USCGC Sea Fox, being completed in October 2009. Four additional vessels were built for Foreign Military Sales, with two each going to Malta and Yemen.
Hareau expressed his deep gratitude to the USCG for the transfer to the Uruguay Navy, which is in the process of upgrading its fleet. He said the patrol boats would replace two 95-foot Cape-class patrol boats transferred to Uruguay in 1990 under the predecessor to the EDA program. Those boats are now more than 60 years old. EDA transfers are a valuable tool in a larger security cooperation program that enables the USCG to make significant contributions to building and sustaining global maritime partnerships in support of our national maritime strategy. These patrol boats will help Uruguay expand its capability in several critical areas, including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, and fisheries enforcement.