U.S. Transfers Cyclone-class Patrol Ships to Philippine Navy

BRP General Mariano Alvarez (PS-38) departing for operations around Mindanao in 2012. Philippine Navy Photo.

It was revealed during Tuesday’s decommissioning ceremony of USS Monsoon (PC 4) and USS Chinook (PC 9) that the ships will be transferred to the Philippine Navy. The Cyclone-class Patrol Coastal Ships were the last two in the U.S. Navy, with both ships serving for almost three decades in littoral patrol operations. Now, the Patrol Coastal Ships will find a new, but familiar, operator: the Philippine Navy.

In 2004, the Philippine Navy received and commissioned BRP General Mariano Alvarez (PS-38), formerly known as the namesake of the class USS Cyclone. The ship was transferred to the Philippines via a military assistance package from the U.S. meant to strengthen Philippine counterterrorism and maritime security capabilities. BRP General Mariano Alvarez’s service in the Philippine Navy has made the Cyclone-class a sought-after procurement, with the Littoral Combat Force seeking more of the ships. The Philippine Navy has even gone so far as to say that they prefer Cyclone over Hamilton-class cutters for ship transfers, stating “What we need is the Cyclone-class, between the (USCGC) Mellon and several Cyclone-class, we will go for the Cyclone-class, as it is needed more right now.” 

With the U.S. Navy retiring the Patrol Coastal Ships over the last few years, the Philippines sent out several visual inspection teams to scout out what Cyclone-class ships the service would take. These teams were seen going to both Hawaii and Bahrain, the latter of which being the main base for Cyclones operating in the Gulf.

These Cyclones are likely being transferred via Excess Defense Articles, most likely from a 2021 offer. As an archipelagic nation, the Philippine Navy has played an important part in maintaining the security of internal and external waters. However, the force suffers from a lack of ships and outdated equipment. Combined with South China Sea disputes and China, the existing fleet struggles to properly cover its mandated area. Excess Defense Articles such as these two patrol boats help the Philippines in boasting its maritime security capabilities and reach.

As USS Monsoon and USS Chinook conclude their service in the U.S. Navy, they will soon find a new life under the Philippine flag conducting maritime security operations in the Philippine archipelago and the South China Sea. In their decommissioning ceremony, Captain Anthony Webber, commander of Task Force 55, highlighted the ships’ capabilities and their new owners, stating “I’m also proud that we are turning over great ships to our Philippine partners.”

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