The first U.S. Navy ship named for a hot, dry northwesterly wind blowing across the Arabian Gulf in summer, typically causing sandstorms.
(PC-13: displacement 334; length 178'; beam 25'; draft 8'; speed 32 knots; complement 30; armament 2 25 millimeter, 2 40 millimeter grenade launchers, 2 .50 caliber machine guns, and 2 7.62 millimeter machine guns; class Cyclone)
Shamal (PC-13) was laid down on 23 September 1994 at Lockport, La., by Bollinger Machine Shop & Shipyard; launched on 3 March 1995; sponsored by Mrs. Nora Slatkin, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisitions); and commissioned on 27 January 1996 at Baton Rouge, La., Lt. Paul E. Flood in command.
Coast Guard Pacific Area and the U.S. Pacific Fleet jointly announced on 5 November 2001, the assignment of two Cyclone-class ships -- Monsoon (PC-4) and Zephyr (PC-8) -- in support of the nation’s homeland security along the U.S. West Coast as a part of Operation Noble Eagle -- where they operated under the tactical control of the Coast Guard Pacific Area command. Operational control of the ships, normally assigned to Special Operations Command through Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, shifted to the Pacific Fleet. Three other Cyclone-class ships -- Shamal, Tempest (PC-2), and Tornado (PC-14) -- were to be assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet for maritime homeland security operations, and home ported at Pascagoula, Miss. The Memorandum of Understanding directed the Navy to retain ownership as well as the responsibility for all life cycle management/maintenance, depot management, and casualty corrective service through 2008. The Coast Guard assumed the “responsibility for crew assignment, cutter funding, retrofitting, operation and management.”
Before the transfer, however, the ship participated in a tragedy. After completing a Coast Guard homeland security inspection of a liquid gas tanker, a boarding party from Typhoon (PC-5) brought their rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) about, and returned to the patrol craft. While they lay alongside the patrol vessel off Cape Henry, Va., at 0355 on 7 November 2003, swells knocked Typhoon’s 42-year-old Engineman 2nd Class Douglas Bolles into the water. When the coxswain attempted to grab Bolles the RHIB capsized, throwing him into the water. Typhoon’s crew rescued the coxswain, but despite an extensive search by guided missile destroyers Barry (DDG-52), Donald Cook (DDG-75), and Porter (DDG-78), Shamal, Sirocco (PC-6), Tempest, and Thunderbolt (PC-12), Coast Guard cutter Albacore (WPB-87309), and aircraft, they failed to find the missing sailor. Fishermen recovered his body about 18 miles east of Back Bay in the Virginia capes during the afternoon watch on 22 November.
Shamal, Tornado, and Zephyr were transferred to the Coast Guard and reclassified to WPC-13, WPC-14, and WPC-8, respectively, on 1 October 2004. On 13 February 2005, Shamal returned to Pascagoula after a five-week patrol in the Caribbean, her first operational patrol as a Coast Guard cutter. While on patrol with Dominican patrol boat Altair (GC.112), Shamal seized more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine and 2,090 pounds of marijuana from two different drug seizures, and arrested several suspects for drug trafficking. On 11 March 2009 Shamal returned to her homeport at Singing River Island in Pascagoula after a 40-day patrol in the Gulf of Mexico. During this patrol, Shamal's crew inspected more than 20 fishing vessels, enforced numerous closed or restricted areas, intercepted four Mexican fishing lanchas fishing illegally in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, and seized 1,000 pounds of Red Snapper and shark. During Shamal’s Coast Guard service, the ship intercepted 146 illegal migrants, conducted numerous search and rescue operations, and participated in the Coast Guard’s response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The Coast Guard returned Shamal, Tornado, and Zephyr to the Navy on 30 September 2011.
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
5 July 2016