The Sinking of the Sloviansk (Formerly USCGC Cushing)

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Characteristics of USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321) as designed

DimensionsLength: 110 ft. Beam: 21 ft. Draft: 7 ft. 4 in. (max)
Propulsion2 Alco-Paxman Valenta diesels generating 5,760 BHP. Twin screws.
Speed30 kts. (max). 1,850 mi radius at 15 kts.
SensorsSPS-64(V) detection radar.
Armament1x 20mm/80 gun, various machine guns
Crew2 officers, 14 enlisted
BuilderKeel LaidLaunchedCommissionedDecommissioned
Bollinger Machine Shop &
Shipyard
1 Sept. 198729 April 19884 August 19888 March 2017
110 ft. Island-class patrol boat as originally designed (Scheina, 1990, p. 64).

Class Design Notes

Drawing of USCGC Farallon (WPB-1301). Note the differences in the superstructure, mast arrangements, electronics, and armament when compared to the above drawing in Scheina’s book (Credit: Globalsecurity.org).

Based on a proven 20-year-old patrol boat design by Vosper-Thornycroft of England, the Island-class patrol boats replaced the 82-foot and 95-foot patrol boats previously used by the U.S. Coast Guard. In total, the Coast Guard acquired 49 of the Island-class patrol boats between 1985 and 1992 at a cost of approximately $7 million per vessel. Each is naturally named after a U.S. island.1

Compared to their original design, the patrol boats have a modified superstructure, deck arrangement, and interior plan as specified by the U.S. Coast Guard. With a steel hull and aluminum superstructure, the cutters have a round-bilge planning hull with an active fin-stabilization system. Additionally, they have a 3-ton cargo payload margin and an endurance of 5 days. The first 16 of the boats ordered are of the A Type (WPB 1301 – WPB 1316), with the following 21 being of the B Type (WPB 1317 – WPB 1337). The differences are that the B Type has additional hull reinforcement plating in the bow, as well as improved water purification equipment, improved habitability, and improved mooring fittings.2 The strengthened hull modifications of the B Type came as a result of the hulls cracking in heavy seas. These modifications are included in the remaining 12 vessels of the class, designated C Type (WPB 1338 – WPB 1349). The A and B Types are powered by two Paxman-Valenta 16 CM engines while the C Type uses two Caterpillar 3516s. For power generation, two 99 KW Caterpillar 3304T diesel generators are used.3

While originally mounting a 20mm gun, that weapon was eventually replaced with one Mk38 Mod 0 25mm machine gun system*. Additionally, there are mounts for two M60 machine guns (A & B Types). The C Types can also mount two Browning M2HB 0.50 caliber machine guns.4

*Based on photographic evidence, the originally mounted 20mm guns were not 20mm/70 Oerlikons of WWII vintage. Rather, they were probably 20mm Mk 16 guns (navalized AN/M3 and M24 20mm aircraft guns). The Mk38 25mm is a navalized M242 Bushmaster gun like those fitted on the U.S. Army M2 Bradley IFV or the USMC LAV-25. The mod 0 is the manually operated version of the mount.

Operational History of USCGC Cushing

USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321) on the Potomac River. 3 November 2015. (Photo credit: kupecap CC BY-SA 3.0.)

The Cushing was stationed in Mobile, AL from 1988 to 1990 and used for law enforcement and search-and-rescue duties.5 She participated in several humanitarian and military operations during the 1990s. These included Operation Able Manner and Operation Able Vigil in 1994 which saw some 55 Coast Guard cutters rescue and repatriate more than 63,000 Haitian and Cuban migrants. Cushing also operated in support of Operation Uphold Democracy as part of the U.S. intervention in Haiti. Other homeports throughout her Coast Guard career included Puerto Rico, and finally, North Carolina. Cushing was decommissioned on 8 March 2017 and placed in storage at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, MD.6

Transfer to the Ukrainian Naval Forces

Unloading the Starbolisk (P191) in Odesa. Formerly the USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323). The bow of the Sloviansk (P190), formerly USCGC Cushing, can be seen on the right. Ukraine purchased several Island-class patrol boats from the U.S. (Photo credit: Ukraine Ministry of Defense CC-BY-4.0.)

In September 2018, as per the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of International Acquisition Excess Defense Articles Program, the decommissioned cutters Cushing and Drummond were selected to be transferred to Ukraine. After a period of maintenance and the training of Ukrainian crews, the former cutters were loaded onto a cargo ship and arrived in Ukraine in October 2019.7

In total, five of the Island-class cutters were transferred to Ukraine. These were as follows:

  • USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321) became the Sloviansk (P190).
  • USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323) became the Strabolisk (P191).
  • USCGC Ocracoke (WPB-1307) became the Sumy (P192).
  • USCGC Washington (WPB-1331) became the Fastiv (P193).
  • USCGC Kiska (WPB-1336) became the Vyacheslav Kubrak (P194).

Part of the Excess Defense Articles Program also included the training of foreign crews at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore supervised by the Coast Guard Cutter Transition Division Training Team.8 Reportedly, part of the modifications to the patrol boats for service in the Ukrainian Naval Forces was replacing the Mk38 with a 25mm 110-PM autocannon.9

The Sinking of the Sloviansk

Sloviansk (P190) underway (date unknown). (Photo credit: Армія Інформ CC-BY-4.0.)

Details of the sinking of the Sloviansk are somewhat sparse. However, she is reported to have been sunk on 3 March 2022 with a number of the crew dead or missing. Volodymyr Novatsky, mayor of the city of Yuzhny, stated in a Youtube video three days later that “an airstrike by an enemy aircraft of the Russian Federation on the patrol boat Sloviansk was inflicted. The patrol boat sank as a result of an air-to-ground cruise missile.”10 The Russian airstrike was in preparation for a planned amphibious landing in Odesa. They were targeting potential landing opposition, and at the time, the Sloviansk was conducting reconnaissance and protection operations near the port of Odesa and further south in the Black Sea.11

According to Wikipedia, she was sunk by a Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton) anti-ship missile.12 However, neither the article by The Maritime Executive cited by Wikipedia nor the Yahoo News article regarding that particular fact make any mention of the exact weapon used if indeed it was a Kh-31 missile. Furthermore, thus far, I’ve only located one source which confirms what kind of weapon was used (it lists it as an X-31), but it seems to be of somewhat dubious credibility.13 But for lack of any better source, let’s just say that it was a Kh-31 that sank her, for now.

Here’s a quick simulation of the engagement I did in Command: Modern Operations.

It is fair to assume that the Sloviansk never stood a chance. These patrol boats don’t have any built-in anti-air or anti-ship missile defenses. Meant primarily for law enforcement and search-and-rescue, they were never designed for a high-threat environment. A single anti-ship missile would probably be enough to take one out.

Notes

1. “WPB 110′ Island Class,” Global Security, August 19, 2014, https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/wpb-110.htm.

2. Robert Scheina, U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft 1946 – 1990 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press,1990), 63.

3. “WPB 110′ Island Class,” Global Security.

4. “WPB 110′ Island Class,” Global Security.

5. Scheina, 64.

6. Allyson Conroy, “Remembering Coast Guard Cutter Cushing,” MyCG, United States Coast Guard, March 22, 2022, https://www.mycg.uscg.mil/News/Article/2972277/remembering-coast-guard-cutter-cushing/.

7. Conroy.

8. Patricia Kime, “Russia Reportedly Sinks Former US Coast Guard Patrol Boat Donated to Ukraine,” Yahoo, March 7, 2022, https://www.yahoo.com/video/russia-reportedly-sinks-former-us-222121754.html.

9. “Ukrainian patrol vessel Sloviansk,” Wikipedia, September 25, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_patrol_vessel_Sloviansk.

10. “Ukraine Reports Loss of U.S.-Built Patrol Boat by Russian Missile,” The Maritime Executive, March 8, 2022, https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/ukraine-reports-loss-of-u-s-built-patrol-boat-by-russian-missile.

11. “Ukraine Reports Loss of U.S.-Built Patrol Boat by Russian Missile,” The Maritime Executive

12. “Ukrainian patrol vessel Sloviansk,” Wikipedia.

13. Kirill Danilchenko, “‘Crayfish strike’: How destroyed Saratov to impact military situation,” PG, March 26, 2022, https://web.archive.org/web/20220418055443/https://en.thepage.ua/politics/how-sunken-saratov-to-impact-military-situation.

Bibliography

Conroy, Allyson. “Remembering Coast Guard Cutter Cushing.” MyCG. United States Coast Guard, March 22, 2022. https://www.mycg.uscg.mil/News/Article/2972277/remembering-coast-guard-cutter-cushing/.

Danilchenko, Kirill. “‘Crayfish strike’: How destroyed Saratov to impact military situation.” PG. March 26, 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220418055443/https://en.thepage.ua/politics/how-sunken-saratov-to-impact-military-situation.

Kime, Patricia. “Russia Reportedly Sinks Former US Coast Guard Patrol Boat Donated to Ukraine.” Yahoo, March 7, 2022. https://www.yahoo.com/video/russia-reportedly-sinks-former-us-222121754.html.

Scheina, Robert. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft 1946-1990. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.

“Ukraine Reports Loss of U.S.-Built Patrol Boat by Russian Missile.” The Maritime Executive, March 8, 2022. https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/ukraine-reports-loss-of-u-s-built-patrol-boat-by-russian-missile.

“Ukrainian patrol vessel Sloviansk.” Wikipedia, September 25, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_patrol_vessel_Sloviansk.

“WPB 110′ Island Class.” Global Security, Last modified August 19, 2014. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/wpb-110.htm.

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