A truly unique class of ships - PHM

June 8th, 2010  
Chief Bones

Topic: A truly unique class of ships - PHM

PHM 1 Pegasus hydrofoil boats were designed to operate offensively against hostile surface combatants and other surface craft; and conduct surveillance, screening and special operations. The six PHMs of the Pegasus class formed a single squadron which operated from Key West Florida. They were the Navy's fastest ships when foilborne and driven by their single gas turbine. They had good range on their diesels, excellent seakeeping qualities (they rode like a vessel 3 times their size), amazingly fast response to requirements for speed, were capable of making a 90 degree turn in it's own length while foilborne, had a potent punch using it's Harpoon system or rapid firing 76mm gun. Since becoming operational, they established an unusually high availability rate while participating in a variety of missions, including significant involvement in the national drug interdiction program - serving as rapid response platform for the Coast Guard Law Enforcement detachment(s) (LEDET).

Builder Boeing Marine Systems

Power Plant
one gas turbine, 18,000 shaft horsepower, waterjet propulsion unit;


two diesels, 1,600 brake horsepower, waterjet propulsion units


Foils extended, 133 feet; foils retracted, 145 feet

28 feet

Displacement 255 tons full load


8 - Harpoon Missiles
1 - 76mm gun


Foilborne, in excess of 40 knots;
hullborne, 12 knots


Name Number Builder Homeport Ordered Commissioned Decommissioned
USS Pegasus PHM-1 Boeing Key West 02 Feb 1973 09 Jul 1977 30 Jul 1993
USS Hercules PHM-2 Boeing Key West 20 Oct 1977 18 Dec 1982 30 Jul 1993
USS Taurus PHM-3 Boeing Key West 20 Oct 1977 10 Oct 1981 30 Jul 1993
USS Aquila
PHM-4 Boeing Key West 20 Oct 1977 26 Jun 1982 30 Jul 1993
USS Aries
PHM-5 Boeing Key West 20 Oct 1977 18 Sep 1982 30 Jul 1993
USS Gemini PHM-6 Boeing Key West 20 Oct 1977 29 Jul 1982 30 Jul 1993



June 11th, 2010  

Topic: Re: A truly unique class of ships - PHM

A real neat patrol boat for the Carribean Sea. To bad the US Navy decided not to keep them.
June 11th, 2010  
Chief Bones

Topic: Politics, politics, politics .....

It was politics that did in the PHM Program / Ships / Support Group. The politics of a surface warfare community that felt threatened by such a small vessel.

The PHM class started out as a NATO joint venture and the very first PHM was built to NATO Standards (metric). All the rest of the class, were built to American Standard after the NATO nations backed out of the venture.

Initially, Congress set aside funding for six of the PHMs and a support group ... the ships to be built by Boeing Aircraft Company, Marine Division out of Renton Washington. The support group was to be a series of connectible or standalone 'Conex style' boxes to be built by an independent contractor, containing test equipment, repair parts and a Mobile Logistics Support Group made up of all of the rates associated with a PHM. They were the group that carried out testing, major repair, and annual PMS requiring equipment and parts not carried aboard. They were also Rapid Response Force for a fire alarm or security alert while in homeport.

The first of the series (USS PEGASUS PHM1), was built, underwent sea trials, maxed out every phase of the trials, was accepted by the Navy and put into service. The second PHM's keel was laid and the build was started .. when the Navy suddenly decided they didn't want any more of the PHMs - they canceled the contract(s) - at which time the second ship was scrapped and all of the parts that had already been built and delivered, were placed into storage where some of the parts were used on the Pegasus as repair parts.

Congress got word of this fiasco from Boeing and very quickly informed the Navy they WOULD accept the rest of the squadron of PHMs and their support group because the money for the ships/support group was ALREADY specifically earmarked for the PHM Program. Basically, Congress shoved the ships and the program down the Navy's throat, when they told the Navy they WOULD honor the original contract. Since PHM2's keel was laid and then scrapped, the next PHM that was built was USS Taurus PHM3 (of which I am a Plankowner), then 4, 5, 6 and finally PHM2 (which WOULD have been the second of the class had the Navy not canceled the contract the first time around).

You will note from the information I posted previously, the life of the PHMs, the support group and squadron command, didn't last long (approximately 20 years), which isn't long for a class. The Navy got rid of the class as quickly as they figured that Congress wouldn't come down on them like a ton of bricks.

From my own experience and training, I can tell you that in the case of a world war (or even limited war), had the entire squadron of six PHMs been placed at either end of Cuba, not one single warcraft of the enemy forces would have been safe (even when in convoy). Each PHM carried 8 Harpoon Missiles .. keep in mind, a single load of 8 missiles, was enough to put the world's largest Aircraft Carrier on the bottom. The PHM radar signature was small enough, that with a small island at their back, they were virtually invisible (which allowed them to acquire a target, refine the firing solution and fire off an entire missile load ... all done before the enemy even knew you were around. To top it off, when the PHM was foilborne, it was almost impossible to hit with ordinary naval gunfire unless it were line-of-sight (a PHM was capable of making such radical turns, the firing solutions from conventional gun systems couldn't keep up).

What made the PHMs so neat, was the fact that this capability was engendered on a vessel having a manning level of 25 personnel (an FFG has a crew of almost 250 and a DDG even more). Considering a PHM was capable of a combat role of a much bigger vessel, with 1/10th the manning level ... you can see the advantage of the class.

It is too bad that the Navy saw fit to do away with the program because of politics ... PHMs were such a neat and potent warcraft and were so much fun to serve on.
June 13th, 2010  
Where are the PHMs now Chief? Are they in mothball or have they been scrapped.

Such ships would have been handy in anti-pirate duty.
June 14th, 2010  
Chief Bones

Originally Posted by mmarsh
Where are the PHMs now Chief? Are they in mothball or have they been scrapped.

Such ships would have been handy in anti-pirate duty.
The USS Aries PHM-5 is the fifth of a six ship Pegasus Class hydrofoil squadron developed for the U.S. Navy in the early 1980’s. The fleet of six PHM Ships were decommissioned in 1993 due to a downsizing of the Navy fleet. Sadly the Aries is the only intact hydrofoil left (USS Gemini PHM-6 was converted to a private motoryacht, all others have been scrapped).

The USS Aries Hydrofoil Memorial, Inc., is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of the only remaining Patrol Hydrofoil Missile (PHM) Ship with foils, and is registered with the Historical Naval Ships Association.

Amazingly, the Aries is quite complete and does function under her own power. She’s even capable of getting underway under her own power utilizing the original Mercedes-Benz diesels. One of the long term goals is to get her to fly once again.

http://www.ussaries.org/ USS Aries PHM-5 Project.
July 17th, 2010  

Topic: Re: A truly unique class of ships - PHM

Originally Posted by Chief Bones
Each PHM carried 8 Harpoon Missiles .. keep in mind, a single load of 8 missiles, was enough to put the world's largest Aircraft Carrier on the bottom.
That is a stretch of the imagination! The USS Stark, a Perry Class frigate took two Exocet Missiles and survived. The Stark had no armor, the carrier is the only US ship being built with metal armor on the outsides of the ship then several rows of compartments with kevlar armor before one can get to the inner portions of the ship. Remember, the super carriers were designed to take hits from the Soviet anti-ship cruise missiles with one ton warheads or the Soviet 650mm torpedoes and be able to limp or make it home.

The PHM is a good patrol boat, not a wonder weapon! I am glad to see at least one of the PHMs is still in one piece.

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