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MANAMA, Bahrain — The Navy’s decision to move five patrol coastal ships permanently to Bahrain starting this summer is being greeted as a move that will reduce the strain on sailors and their families.

The addition of the five ships by spring of 2014, means the Navy will have 10 vessels homeported in Bahrain — all of them permanently stationed in the Gulf nation that is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Currently sailors on the five patrol coastal ships in Bahrain deploy on a six-month unaccompanied rotational basis.

“Having a rotating crew here is not the best idea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tom Cunningham, commander of the USS Firebolt, one of the ships.

By having the ships permanently in Bahrain, sailors will have the option to bring their families, and tour lengths will be one or two years. It will be a much better quality of life for the crews, said Cunningham, who’s crew arrived in February and is expected to be the last rotational crew.

Patrol coastal ships are small ships that can operate in shallow waters and travel upwards of 35 knots. There primary purpose is to patrol and surveillance.

The move comes amid heightened tensions with Iran over that country’s nuclear program.

simoes.hendrick@stripes.comTwitter: @hendricksimoes

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