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Bahrain commissions ex-US patrol ships

Bahrain's King Hamad greets officers in front of RBNS Al-Gurairiyah , one of the five Cyclone-class patrol ships he commissioned on 30 March. (Bahrain Defence Force)

The US 5th Fleet has transferred the Cyclone-class patrol ships it recently retired to Bahrain, which was revealed when they were commissioned by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 30 March.

The Bahrain Defence Force identified the ships as RBNS Al-Gurairiyah, RBNS Al-Sakhir, RBNS Al-Farooq, RBNS Jenan, and RBNS Damsah. It did not say where they came from, but media coverage of the event showed five Cyclone-class vessels at the Royal Bahrain Naval Force's (RBNF's) Salman Naval Base in Manama, which is next door to the US base where they normally dock.

A painted-over name on Damsah's hull showed it was formerly USS Typhoon, which the 5th Fleet retired along with USS Tempest, USS Squall, and USS Whirlwind earlier in March. USS Firebolt was decommissioned in February.

The new Bahraini ships did not have the large satellite communications antenna behind their bridges or another antenna and the electro-optical system that were mounted on their masts when they were in US service.

The five 55 m-long ships were commissioned by the US Navy between 1993 and1995 and served with the 5th Fleet from 2013 or earlier, during which time they played a prominent role in maritime security operations.

They are armed with two 25 mm Mk 38 Mod 2 weapon stations and Stinger short-range anti-aircraft missiles, and can launch and recover an interceptor from a rear ramp. The 5th Fleet equipped them with laser-guided BGM-176 Griffin missiles that were fired from removable launchers to give them the ability to engage surface targets at longer ranges.

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