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U.S. Navy Turns Away From Small Warships Despite Growing Demand, Tactical Relevance

While small ships jostle in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy is celebrating their departure from the messy business of managing small combatants. After shedding fourteen long-unloved Cyclone class (PC-1) coastal patrol ships, the Navy has effectively handed the responsibility for managing small ship operations, engagement and training to the already overtasked and poorly-funded U.S. Coast Guard.

The decision is hard to justify. Outside of the U.S. Navy, interest in small craft is high. Allies have lined up to claim many of the U.S. Navy’s fourteen long-unloved 355-ton Cyclone class coastal patrol ships. As of today, eleven old Cyclones have been commissioned into three foreign Navies, and one more may soon follow. The U.S. Coast Guard is busy putting 65 small Sentinel class cutters into service, and it still wants a few more.

The Navy isn’t responding to the tactical trend. The globe-spanning interest in America’s otherwise ragged fleet of aged and poorly-maintained patrol combatants hasn’t sparked demand for a Cyclone class replacement, or make anybody in the U.S. Navy or the Department of Defense think a tad harder about the top-heavy composition of America’s 296-ship fleet. China’s numerous, diverse and constantly-proliferating fleet of small and irregular combatants risks going unanswered.

The Navy’s wholesale elimination of small combat-oriented ships is unprecedented.

Today, according to the Naval Vessel Register, only ten battle force ships—eight minesweepers, a tug and transport ship—are under


Source : forbes