The coastal patrol ship USS Shamal, pictured, joined the USS Tornado and the USS Zephyr on Thursday in decommissioning ceremonies at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. Photo courtesy of U. S. Navy
Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy retired three Cyclone-class patrol boats in ceremonies this week as it reduces the number of vessels in the class from 13 to zero.
The USS Tornado, the USS Sharmal and the USS Tornado were formally decommissioned and given new statuses at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
Designed for transporting special operations forces in shallow water, the three ships were used to train forward-deployed Cyclone crews of the U.S. 5th Fleet, in operations against Iranian fast attack vessels and as escorts for larger U. S. ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz.
"These three warships have served our Navy and our country well," Capt. Mike Meyer, commander of Naval Surface Squadron Fourteen, said at Thursday's ceremony.
"Each of them has operated well past their designed service life, with their crews contributing demonstrably to meeting our national objectives."
The USS Zephyr, commissioned in 1993, and the USS Shamal, commissioned in 1995, will be scrapped in March. The USS Tornado, commissioned in 2000, is scheduled to be marketed for foreign military sale. The10 remaining Cyclone-class ships are stationed in Bahrain.
The patrol boats, each 179 feet long, are regarded as heavily armed for their size, and carry machine guns, grenade-launchers, two 25-mm cannons and twin quad launchers for Griffin surface-to-surface missiles. They can also fire Stinger surface-to-air missiles.
The USS Zephyr was among the first ships to respond in2010 to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The USS Shamal participated in the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the USS Tornado was involved in the disruption of delivery of 40 tons of cocaine in a 2020.counter-narcotics mission.
"Shamal is leaving behind a storied legacy of operating in the waters of the United States and abroad," Lt. Cmdr. Dan O'Neill, the ship's commanding officer, said at the ceremony.
"Her crew, past and present, can stand proud of her accomplishments and service to our nation."