Cyclone-class patrol ship
USS Hurricane (PC-3) moves past USS Whirlwind (PC-11) and an unidentified Cyclone-class patrol ship at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, 2005.
|Displacement:||331 tons (336 metric tons) full load|
|Length:||179 ft (55 m)|
|Beam:||25 ft (7.6 m)|
|Propulsion:||Four Paxman diesels; four shafts; 3,350 shaft horsepower (2.50 MW)|
|Speed:||35 knots (40 mph; 65 km/h)|
|Endurance:||2000-2500nm (@12knots, with transit fuel reserve)|
|Crew:||Four officers, 24 enlisted personnel|
|Armament:||2 × MK 38 25 mm autocannon
5 ×.50 caliber machine guns
2 × MK 19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers
2 × M240B machine guns
6 × FIM-92 Stinger SAMs
The primary mission of these ships is coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance, an important aspect of littoral operations outlined in the Navy's strategy, "Forward...From the Sea." These ships also provide full mission support for U.S. Navy SEALs and other special operations forces. The Cyclone class ships are assigned to Naval Special Warfare. Of the thirteen ships, nine originally operated out of the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia, and four originally operated from the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. These ships provide the Naval Special Warfare Command with a fast, reliable platform that can respond to emergent requirements in a low intensity conflict environment.
Three hulls were decommissioned and loaned to the United States Coast Guard to be returned to the Navy in 2011 and one was transferred to the Philippine Navy. Of the remaining ten, five are homeported at Little Creek and five are homeported in Bahrain as part of a rotating forward deployment. Shamal, Tornado and Zephyr were returned to the U.S. Navy in 2011 and placed back in commission.
The hulls on loan to the US Coast Guard are used in a variety of roles, including search and rescue, interception, boarding, and inspection of foreign freighters arriving at US ports.
In September 2010, the decision was made to recall all of the remaining ships of the class due to fatigue damage to their hulls. The class was designed for a lifespan of roughly 15 years. All but the newest member of the class, Tornado, have been in service longer. The vessels will be inspected and a decision will be made whether to refit them or to decommission the ships.
As of 2012, most of the ships were being deployed to the Persian Gulf to deal with a potential conflict with Iran.
Development and design 
In the 1980s, the US Navy developed a requirement for a replacement for the PB Mk III small (65 ft) Vietnam War-era patrol boats used to transport SEAL teams. The first attempt to replace the PB Mk IIIs led to an order being placed in 1984 for a stealthy surface effect ship, the Special Warfare Craft, Medium, or SWCM, with a length of about 83 feet (25 m) and a displacement of 150 long tons (150 t). The SWCM, nicknamed "Sea Viking", was a failure, however, and construction of the prototype was abandoned in 1987.
After the failure of the innovative SWCM, it was decided to replace the PB Mk IIIs with a simple development of an existing design rather than wait for an entirely new design to be produced and developed. Bollinger Shipyards proposed a development of the Vosper Thornycroft Province-class fast patrol boat built for Oman and Kenya, and this was selected by the US Navy.
At 52.82 metres (173.3 ft), the new design, at first designated PBC (Patrol Boat Coastal), and later PC, was much larger than the boats that they were to replace. It was planned to build 16 PBC to replace the 17 PB Mk IIIs, with first deliveries expected in 1991. The program was stopped at 14 boats, however, as it was realised that the PC was too large for the SEAL delivery role.
|Cyclone||PC-1||1993–2000||Philippines||Transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard in February 2000 as USCGC Cyclone (WPC-1), transferred to the Philippine Navy in March 2004. Now BRP Mariano Alvarez (PS-38).||PC-1|
|Tempest||PC-2||1993–||Little Creek, VA||Active||PC-2|
|Zephyr||PC-8||1994–2004, 2011-||Pascagoula, Mississippi||Loaned to the U.S. Coast Guard as USCGC Zephyr (WPC-8), returned to Navy and recommissioned 2011||PC-8|
|Shamal||PC-13||1996–2004, 2011-||Pascagoula, Mississippi||Loaned to the U.S. Coast Guard as USCGC Shamal (WPC-13), returned to Navy and recommissioned 2011||PC-13|
|Tornado||PC-14||2000–2004, 2011-||Pascagoula, Mississippi||Loaned to the U.S. Coast Guard as USCGC Tornado (WPC-14), returned to Navy and recommissioned 2011||PC-14|
- United States Coast Guard (4 returned to USN)
Related articles 
- Axe, David. "Navy’s Tiniest Warships Could Lead Assault on Iran." Wired Magazine. March 22, 2012.
- Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p. 627.
- Moore 1985, p. 734.
- Prézelin and Baker 1990, p. 828.
- Baker 1998, pp. 1030–1031.
- "5 More US Patrol Ships Heading to the Gulf."
- Baker, A.D. The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World 1998–1999. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1998. ISBN 1-55750-111-4.
- Gardiner, Robert and Stephen Chumbley. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland USA: Naval Institute Press, 1995. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
- Moore, John. Jane's Fighting Ships 1985–86. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1985. ISBN 0 7106-0814-4.
- Prézelin, Bernard and Baker, A.D. The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World 1990/1991. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 0-87021-250-8.
- Media related to Cyclone class patrol coastal ships at Wikimedia Commons
- US Navy Fact Sheet
- PC-1 Cyclone class Patrol Coastal Craft (globalsecurity.org)
- WPC-179 Cyclone Patrol Coastal Craft (globalsecurity.org)
- Program Executive Office, Ships - PC
- Navy Times article on repairs to the class.