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USNS Patuxent Escorts Patrol Boats on Trans-Atlantic Journey

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040514-10

Release Date: 5/14/2004 2:55:00 PM

By Photographer's Mate 2nd Class (AW) Tim Comerford, Naval Station Rota Public Affairs

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201) accompanied patrol boats USS Typhoon (PC 5) and USS Sirocco (PC 6) on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Naval Station Rota, Spain, and arrived in port with the two PCs May 12.

Patuxent is an oiler from Williamsburg, Va.

"Our mission is under way replenishment," said Capt. Craig Upton, master of Patuxent. "We give fuel and stores to Navy ships out at sea, so that they can sustain their time at sea and stay on station longer."

Patuxent has 90 personnel aboard; four active-duty military personnel, one Navy chief and 85 civilians round out the crew.

Patuxent deployed for the Iraq war last year, so the current trip to Spain is just a short journey in comparison.

"We just came from Norfolk," said Upton. "We have been under way for eleven days. We were escorting two PCs and some combatants.... It was a welcome surprise to come over here for only four or five days and not the whole six months."

Conversely, the patrol boats are beginning their deployments and are traveling to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

"We just completed a TRANSLANT [trans-Atlantic crossing] enroute to 5th Fleet for our scheduled deployment," said Lt. Michael Nash, commanding officer of Sirocco. "This is a rest and fuel stop along the way. We will only be here a couple of days."

A trans-Atlantic crossing for small crafts, such as a PC, is not easy. A patrol boat's primary mission is coastal patrol and interdiction operations. Weather can be a big factor for crossing the Atlantic on these small craft. The ship holds only 32 people (28 enlisted and four officers on Sirocco). The patrol boats have a length of 170 feet and a beam of 25 feet with a shallow draft.

"The patrol boats don't normally TRANSLANT. We are going to go relieve two ships in 5th Fleet that have been over there for more than 18 months," explained Nash. "The reason we are coming over in May is the time of year. It is really tough on the crews when you get in rough weather. Potentially, it can be tough on the ship as well. The timing proved to be perfect; we had great weather all the way across."

"We transited with a group like we did, because we were going to need fuel," said Nash. "We do not have the fuel capacity to make a TRANSLANT without refueling. But then, we can operate where other ships can't."

The commanding officers were glad to reach Rota and take a small break from their work before continuing on their separate travels.

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