In service, the 14 coastal patrol ships of the Cyclone class have had an impact far beyond their numbers and size. But beyond that, they serve as a prototype for future littoral and irregular operations, and perhaps a different U.S. Navy.
The U.S. Navy's Patrol Coastal (PC) Squadron has been operating under the radar since the early 1990s, but as the war on terrorism enters its ninth year, these ships continue to prove their worth in a mission that lacks in glamour but pays in gold. Black gold, that is. The maritime infrastructure protection mission in the northern Persian Gulf provides defense-in-depth for Iraq's vital oil export facilities. With more than 90 percent of the nation's gross domestic product generated through petroleum exports, those oil terminals are the difference between its future prosperity and governance or the grim realities of a failed state.