New USCG Cutters Arrive in Lebanon for Middle East Deployment

USCG Middle East deployment
Cutters marked their arrival in the Middle East with a stop in Lebanon (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Noah Martin)

Published Jul 26, 2022 6:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two of the U.S. Coast Guard’s newest fast response cutters made an unusual visit yesterday, July 25, arriving in Beirut, Lebanon for a scheduled port visit. The port calls mark their arrival to the Middle East after departing the United States and transiting the Mediterranean Sea as part of an ongoing strategy between the Navy and Coast Guard to coordinate operations.

Fast response cutters USCGC John Scheuerman and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. are the newest additions to a slate of Coast Guard ships supporting the U.S. 5th Fleet from Bahrain. Both of the vessels will be homeported in Manama, Bahrain replacing aging Island-class patrol boats. The Scheuerman was commissioned in February in Tampa, Florida as the 46th Sentinel-class fast response cutter and the fifth of six fast response cutters assigned to the Middle East mission. Her sister ship Sutphin was commissioned in April in New York City.

“The John Scheuerman crew is excited to begin operations in U.S. 5th Fleet where we will have the opportunity to collaborate with our partners in the region,” said Lt. Trent Moon, commanding officer of Scheuerman. “I am extremely proud of this crew and they have proved that we are ready for the opportunities ahead.”

While in Beirut, crewmembers will meet with Lebanese Navy counterparts on subjects related to shipboard operations, safety, and damage control. Coast Guardsmen will also participate in cultural exchange opportunities planned ashore.

The Sentinel-class cutters are the final two of six that are overseen by Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard's largest unit outside of the United States. The ships are forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East. The Patrol Force was established 20 years ago in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and continues to be a vital part of the operations in the region. In May 2021, two USCG patrol boats were part of a 5th fleet exercise when they were harassed by vessels from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. The USCGC Maui fired warning shots at the Iranian vessels when they came within 150 yards of the cutter while it was underway. Last month, the Navy reported that one of the USCG patrol boats completed a heroin seizure in the Gulf of Oman during one of its regular patrols.

“The crew and I are thrilled to arrive in Lebanon en route to our new operating station,” said Lt. David Anderson, commanding officer of Clarence Sutphin Jr.

Measuring at 154-feet, the fast response cutters have a flank speed of 28 knots, C4ISR suite (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), and a stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot, over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat. The Navy also noted that the new cutters feature advanced communications systems and improved surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.

The U.S. 5th Fleet operating area includes 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean, and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandeb, and Suez Canal.