As increasing attention is paid to ensuring the nation is secure from attacks - whether direct or covert - via the waterways, companies that supply vessels and equipment to the Coast Guard and Navy are quickly planning for an expected upturn in business. Last month Admiral Robert Natter, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and Vice Adm. Thad Allen, Commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area, announced the assignment of four Cyclone-Class Navy Patrol Coastal (PC) ships in support of the nation's homeland security Operation Noble Eagle. Two additional PCs will be assigned to the Pacific Coast. For the first time, U.S. Navy ships will be employed jointly with the U.S. Coast Guard to help protect the nation's coastline, ports and waterways from terrorist attack. "The Atlantic Fleet is working closely with the Coast Guard to ensure the security of our Gulf and east coast ports," said Admiral Natter. "These ships will be used for coastal patrol and interdiction efforts with the Coast Guard. PC's are extremely versatile and can provide important additional capabilities to help defeat terrorism." Under Operation Noble Eagle, the four Atlantic Fleet PC's will be used for U.S. coastal patrol and maritime homeland security operations under the tactical control of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command. Operational control of the ships, normally assigned to United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) through Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command (CNSWC), was recently shifted to Atlantic Fleet Navy commands. "The Cyclone-Class of Navy ships are particularly suited for the maritime homeland security mission
," Allen said. "New threats require new thinking. These highly capable ships and Navy crews, along with the Coast Guard's unique authority and law enforcement expertise, provide a capable and versatile ocean craft that we need to fight terrorism in the maritime environment."
As the lead agency for maritime homeland security, the Coast Guard is responsible for protecting more than 360 ports and 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline. Together with the U.S. Navy and federal, state and local law enforcement, the Coast Guard has been conducting its largest port security operation since World War II. The PCs involved in this deployment order will be utilized for homeland security for the next six months. Use of PCs for homeland security in the long-term future has not yet been determined. PCs traditionally have been utilized to conduct Naval Special Warfare (NSW) maritime operations, coastal patrol of foreign shores, surveillance, and shallow-water interdiction operations. They frequently operate with the Coast Guard and other military units. These factors make the ships particularly relevant for participation in Operation Noble Eagle.
Bollinger Shipyards has built more than a dozen of the Cyclone class vessels for the U.S. Navy, including the most recently delivered Tornado. The 179-ft. vessel integrates a steel hull and main deck with aluminum superstructure, and is powered to speeds above 35 knots by four Paxman diesels, which develop in excess of 13,400 hp. Tornado is equipped with a satellite navigation system
, forward looking infrared and surface radar with collision avoidance capabilities.