U.S. hands over Island-class patrol boats to Ukraine's Naval Forces
Two Island-class patrol boats have been handed over to the Ukrainian Navy at the U.S. naval base in Baltimore, Maryland, in the presence of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Michael McAllister.
"We aim at convincing the Kremlin of our determination to protect the Ukrainian coast, just like we are defending our land in Donbas, our sovereignty, freedom, and democracy. Solidarity, unity, and support will enable us to protect this thin red line from the aggressor not with bullets, but with our determination to act," Poroshenko said at the ceremony.
"Peace enforcement is the most effective strategy against the Russian aggression," he said.
Poroshenko said he was hopeful that the transfer of two patrol boats to Ukraine was just the beginning of cooperation between Kyiv and Washington in that area.
Ukrainian Navy Commander Admiral Ihor Voronchenko and U. S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Michael McAllister signed the memorandum of transfer of USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321) and USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323) patrol boats to Ukraine.
Island-class patrol boats were built for the U.S. Coast Guard between 1985 and 1992. A total of 49 patrol boats of the class were built. The U.S. Coast Guard began to replace them with new Sentinel-class patrol boats in 2014, yet 12 Island-class patrol boats remained in service. The United States is handing over decommissioned patrol boats of the Coast Guard to its allies. According to public information, the United States will have about 30 Island-class patrol boats left after it transfers two boats to Ukraine.
The basic modification of Island-class patrol boats has a displacement of 168 tonnes, a length of 34 meters, a width of 6.4 meters, and a speed of 29.5 knots. They have a crew of 16, including two officers. Patrol boats are armed with a 25mm cannon and two machine guns. In addition, patrol boats are equipped with an AN/SPS-73 radar system and a 5.4-meter Zodiak Hurricane 540 inflatable craft.
USCGC Cushing and USCGC Drummond were mothballed after their decommissioning by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2017. The latest dock maintenance was given to USCGC Cushing in 2014, and to USCGC Drummond in 2012.
Ukrainian crews of the former U.S. patrol boats will now be trained. The Island-class vessels will later be deployed to Odesa. The media said the entire process might take up to 12 months. Ukraine may receive more boats of the class and a number of other necessary vessels from the United States in the future.