Two United States Coast Guard fast response cutters arrived in Bahrain, August 23, marking the arrival to their ultimate destination after departing Key West, Florida in June. USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) are two of the Coast Guard’s six newest Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRC) now stationed in Bahrain where U.S. 5th Fleet is headquartered. John Scheuerman and Clarence Sutphin Jr. were commissioned in February and April 2022 respectively. The Sentinel-class cutters in Bahrain are overseen by PATFORSWA, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States.
“This arrival represents the culmination of years of tireless effort and exceptional teamwork. These newest FRCs bring us to our full complement of six ships and mark the beginning of a new era of extraordinary maritime capability supporting U.S. 5th Fleet,” said Capt. Eric Helgeb, commander of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA).
“We are extremely excited to be here and look forward continuing to work with international partners in the region. Completing this more than 10,000-nautical-mile transit to Bahrain has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Lt. David Anderson, commanding officer of Clarence Stuphin Jr.
The Sentinel-class cutter, also known as Fast Response Cutter due to its program name, is part of the U.S. 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. 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. 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, like the Marine Protector-class and the eight failed expanded Island-class cutters.
The ships are forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East. 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. The Department of Homeland Security’s budget proposal to Congress, for the Coast Guard, for 2021, stated that, in addition to 58 vessels to serve the Continental US, they requested an additional six vessels for its portion of Patrol Forces South West Asia.