USS Pegasus (PHM-1)

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USS Pegasus
Name: USS Pegasus
Awarded: 1 February 1973
Builder: Boeing Marine Systems, Renton, Washington
Laid down: 9 May 1973
Launched: 9 November 1974
Commissioned: 9 July 1977
Decommissioned: 30 July 1993
Struck: 30 July 1993
Homeport: Key West, Florida
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 19 August 1996
General characteristics
Class and type: Pegasus-class hydrofoil
Displacement: 255 long tons (259 t) full
Length: 133 ft (41 m)
Beam: 28 ft (8.5 m)
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) hullborne
  • 48 knots (89 km/h; 55 mph) foilborne
Complement: 4 officers, 17 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:

USS Pegasus (PHM-1) was the lead ship of her class of hydrofoils operated by the United States Navy. Pegasus class vessels were designed for high speed and mobility, and carried a powerful armament for their size.


Named for the constellation, Pegasus was originally intended to be named Delphinus, but during development and discussion it was feared it could be nicknamed 'dull-penis', so the name was dropped.[1] In service it earned the nickname 'Pegasorous'. As this vessel was constructed several years before the rest of the class, there are some minor differences, notably in the fire-control systems of the respective craft.


PHM 1 Pegasus hydrofoil boats were designed to operate offensively against hostile surface combatants and other surface craft; and conduct surveillance, screening and special operations. The six PHMs of the Pegasus class formed a single squadron which operated from Key West. They were the Navy's fastest ships when foil borne and driven by their single gas turbine. They had good range on their diesels, excellent sea keeping qualities, amazingly fast response to requirements for speed, and a potent punch. They established an unusually high availability rate while participating in a variety of missions, including significant involvement in the national drug interdiction program.


The PHM project was started in early 1970 by CNO Admiral Elmo Zumwalt in an effort to increase the Navy's number of surface combatants. The project called for a cost-effective hydrofoil boat designed to operate in coastal waters and equipped to fulfill the missions of destroyers and frigates in those areas so that these larger ships could be deployed to areas where they are needed most. These missions included surface surveillance as well as immediate responses such as Surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) to any hostile actions conducted by enemy navies.

The PHM project was not only a US project. Other countries involved included Italy, Germany, Canada and Great Britain. During the initial phase of the project it was planned to build up to 100 hydrofoil boats for the NATO navies.

Following the retirement of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt the Navy reduced funding for the PHM project. Due to the lack of money it was decided to use available monies for larger fleet units instead. The increasing costs of the PHM project finally resulted in the completion of only one PHM, the USS Pegasus, although the construction of this ship had to be stopped for a while in 1974 again due to the lack of funds. At that time, the ship was only 20% completed.

Although PHM 3 - 6 had already been funded in FY 74 (PHM 2 in FY 73), construction of these ships did not start until 6 April 1977, when Secretary of Defense Harold Brown announced that the whole project (with the exception of USS Pegasus) was suspended. Congress now insisted on the completion of the last five ships since they had already been funded. In August 1977, Secretary of Defense Brown reactivated the PHM project and construction of the ships resumed, but the four countries involved in the project had lost interest in the PHM program.

The last of the US Navy's hydrofoil boats was commissioned in 1982.


On 30 September 1981, Pegasus was involved in a collision with Newport (LST-1179), but was later repaired.

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