On 5 April the U.S. Navy commissioned its newest littoral combat ship into the Fleet. The USS Coronado (LCS-4) is the second of the Independence class to enter service, joining older sister Independence and two units of the Freedom class. Built by Austal shipyard at Mobile, Alabama, the Coronado completed acceptance trials last year and was handed over on 27 September 2013. Once delivered, the ship sailed to Mayport, Florida, and conducted equipment checks, additional testing, and crew-certification training while making visits to Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay and ports in Colombia and Panama. On 10 March she arrived at her new home port of San Diego, California, to prepare for commissioning and service with the Navy’s 3rd Fleet. With a length of 417 feet, beam of 100 feet, and draft of 15 feet, the 3,000-ton Independence-class LCS is based on a fast commercial ferry; the design includes an aluminum trimaran hull with a large flight deck, helicopter hangar, and reconfigurable mission bay.
In March Venezuela announced an order for 12 new patrol vessels from the Dutch shipbuilding firm Damen. The order, costing more than $300 million, includes six of the popular Stan Patrol 4207 vessels and six larger Stan Axe 5009 craft. These 12 new vessels will operate alongside the recently acquired Guaiquerí-class offshore-patrol ships and Guicamacuto-class coastal-patrol ships to assist with Exclusive Economic Zone monitoring, search-and-rescue operations, law-enforcement duties, and other tasks. The 205-ton Stan Patrol 4207 design, pictured here, carries a crew of around 16 people, and measures 140 feet long with a beam of 23 feet and a draft of 8 feet. The larger Stan Axe 5009 displaces around 425 tons (full load) and measures around 165 feet with a beam of nearly 30 feet and a draft of 11.5 feet. Up to eight new 600-ton Damen Stan Lander 5612 transport craft are also planned for Venezuelan naval service to supplement four that recently joined the fleet.
On 28 February the Canadian underway-replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur suffered a serious engine-room fire while operating in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 400 miles north of Hawaii. Twenty crew members reportedly suffered minor injuries while extinguishing the fire, which caused extensive damage to the 564-foot, 24,000-ton vessel. Several U.S. Navy ships were close enough to render aid soon after the incident began. The Arleigh Burke–class destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) was first on the scene, followed by the cruiser USS Chosin (CG-65) and the fleet ocean tug USNS Sioux (T-ATF-175). The Canadian replenishment ship was initially taken under tow by the Chosin, but the tug Sioux completed the ship’s journey to Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 7 March. The Protecteur will soon be towed back to Canada so that officials there can assess the extent of her damage and determine the fate of the 44-year-old Canadian fleet veteran.