PEGASUS class gallery

(PHM-2 Hercules image). In 1970 Admiral Zumwalt planned the US Navy’s new shipbuilding policy for the coming years in a report called “Project 60”. This report detailed two types of programs called “high” and “low”, and within the “low program” the construction of 4 different types of ships was included, among which were fast attack patrol vessels. The idea was for the United States to develop a standard class of hydrofoil patrol boats that would be used by various NATO navies.
(PHM-3 Taurus & PHM-2 Hercules image). The United States proposed its PHM (Patrol Hydrofoil Missile) concept to NATO and Germany and Italy showed their interest in participating in the project and other countries studied the idea without committing to anything. The need for this type of ship was common in these 3 countries, since their main mission would be the interception of Soviet surface units during their passage through the waters of the Mediterranean and the Northwest Pacific in the event of war. Thanks to the excellent speed and anti-ship missiles of the PHM, rapid attacks could be carried out that would make navigation through these waters very difficult. Initially, 30 boats were going to be acquired for the US Navy, 12 for the German Bundesmarine and 4 for the Italian Military Navy.
When the Pegasus class began to be built, in 1973, the German and Italian Navies retired from the program, although Italy developed the Sparviero class fast attack patrol boats. Finally only the US Navy put these patrol boats into service, and the number ordered was much lower than the projected amount, acquiring only 6 boats. After the delivery of the PHM-1 Pegasus in 1974, it was decided to cancel the entire program in April 1977, but in August 1977 Congress forced the US Navy to build 5 more ships. The manufacturing period lasted from 1973 to 1982 and the PHM-1 Pegasus (on the image) finally entered service in July 1977, the PHM-3 Taurus, (second to be commissioned), entered service in October 1981 and the rest of the boats were comissioned during 1982. The delay in the construction meant that the 5 ships after the PHM-1 Pegasus were slightly different and were equipped with a Mk.92 Mod 1 fire control system instead of the Mk.94 model.
(PHM-2 Hercules image). These ships were built by Boeing Marine Systems of Seattle, and used the experience acquired during the manufacture of several experimental hydrofoil patrol vessels such as the PCH-1 High Point, AGEH-1 Plainview, PGH-1 Flagsatff and PGH-2 Tucumcari. The Pegasus class patrol boats had the same structural configuration as the PGH-2 Tucumcari, that is, jet propulsion and completely submerged hydrofoils. The Pegasus class have 3 stainless steel and anti-corrosion hydrofoils. The front one retracts forward and upward and is housed in a hole in the bow, and the two rear ones form a single structure joined in the center that retracts into the hull when carrying out conventional navigation. The hull is built with light alloy plates and is divided longitudinally by 9 watertight bulkheads that ensure certain buoyancy in case of direct impacts.
(PHM-2 Hercules image). Pegasus class had two power plants, one for conventional navigation and the other for sailing using hydrofoils. For conventional navigation they had two MTU diesel engines, each coupled to a hydrojet with a pumping capacity of 113,500 liters of water per minute. In addition, for maneuvers in port at low speed, they had a third diesel engine that drove a transverse propeller installed under the gun compartment. The power plant for navigation on hydrofoils (lift) was composed of a Fiat/General Electric LM2500 gas turbine coupled to a reducer that drove a two-stage, two-speed hydrogen engine capable of pumping up to 340,500 liters of water per minute. The water intakes were at the lower end of the two aft legs at the height of the hydrofoils. The water passed through ducts located inside these legs and was then expelled by the hydroreactor. The Pegasus class could navigate on hydrofoils in seas up to force 5 and reach a maximum speed of 48 knots (89 km/h).
(PHM-1 Pegasus image).Finally six ships were commissioned, and were: PHM-1 Pegasus, PHM-2 Hercules, PHM-3 Taurus, PHM-4 Aquila, PHM-5 Aries and PHM-6 Gemini. These patrollers were very well armed considering their small size. Their main armament was 2 quadruple RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers, with which they could attack ships located more than 100 km away. In addition to the missiles they also carried a 76/62mm OTO-Melara Mk.75 gun with 400 rounds. They also carried an active defense system consisting of a Mk.34 chaff launcher located on the roof of the superstructure.
Pegasus class patrol boats never saw combat and were limited to mainly carrying out exercises and coastal surveillance tasks. It is known that they participated in some anti-drug operations in Caribbean waters and in 1983 the ships PHM-3 Taurus (on the image) and PHM-4 Aquila were deployed in the vicinity of the Island of Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury. In 1993, the high maintenance cost led to the early retirement of the entire class after an average of only 11 years of service. Although the possibility of transferring these ships to an allied Navy was studied, they were finally all scrapped except for the PHM-5 Aries, which in 1996 was converted into the “USS Aries PHM-5 Hydrofoil Memorial, Inc” located in Brunswick, Missouri.

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