The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has reported that 85-foot-long Mark VI patrol boats assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 56 participated in a live fire exercise with an MH-60S helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26.
“Mark VI boats increased interoperability with HSC 26 which allows both units to develop procedures leading to increased ability to contribute to the 5th Fleet maritime picture,” added Harris. “The live-fire event showcases a leap forward in the ability of both units to work together to increase lethality in support of layered defenses. This new capability will allow commanders more reaction time, decision space, and options to deal with threats to the force.”
The MK VI designed to fulfill the requirement for an armored boat with greater range, more lethal firepower and sea keeping capabilities that exceeded the Navy’s small boat capabilities. They can conduct missions in the open ocean for protecting defence forces.
The versatile patrol vessels can support search-and-seizure operations, maritime intercept operations, theatre security cooperation operations and other clandestine security force activities. They can function as escorts for high-value assets and also take part in mine hunting and fast attack combats.
These events highlights one of many core competencies the coastal riverine force provides in support of U.S. 5th Fleet operations. CTF 56 is responsible for the planning and execution of expeditionary missions including coastal riverine operations in U.S. 5th Fleet.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait at the southern tip of Yemen.