In 1984 the Coast Guard initiated a program to replace aging 82' Point-class and 95' Cape-class patrol boats currently in service. The original contract for 16 patrol boats was awarded to the Marine Power and Equipment Company of Seattle, WA. but was later voided by a US. District Court because of procurement irregularities. Subsequently, the contract was awarded to the Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, LA. in August, 1984.
To speed production and ensure the Coast Guard received a boat of proven design, the design chosen was a modified version of a British boat built by Vosper Thornycroft, UK that had been in service with Venezuela, Qatar, Singapore, and the UAE for more than 20 years.
The first of the class, Farallon (WPB-1301) was commissioned in February of 1986 and was assigned patrol duties in Miami, FL. In 1986 the US Navy purchased an additional 16 Island-class patrol boats for the Coast Guard under a DoD Augmentation Appropriation, while 5 more were purchased by the Coast Guard with 1986 Anti-drug Abuse Act funds. Including a final order for twelve additional boats, there would ultimately be a total of 49 Island-class patrol boats in service.
Following the initial production run of 16 boats, structural weaknesses in the all-steel hull were discovered which necessitated the incorporation of additional bow plating in the hull to prevent cracking in heavy seas. Because of modifications made to the Island-class boats throughout their production, the class is divided up into three separate series; A-series (WPB-1301-1316), B-series (WPB 1317-1337) and C-series (WPB 1338-1349.) The hull strengthening modifications were incorporated beginning with the first of the B-series boats Attu (WPB-1317) and continued throughout the remainder of production. The last boat produced, Galveston Island (WPB-1349) was commissioned in June of 1992, and homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam. All 49 Island-class boats were produced at the Bollinger yards at an approximate cost of $7 million per boat.
As offshore patrol boats, the Island-class boats are expected to perform surveillance, law enforcement, and drug interdiction operations as well as search and rescue work. They have a 5-day endurance and a three-ton payload capacity.
Of the original 49 boats in the Island-class, 41 are still in service with 8 having been upgraded to the 123' Island-class standard as part of the Coast Guard's $17 billion Deepwater project.
The Island-class patrol boats are 110 feet long, have a beam of 21 feet, and draw 7 feet of water. The A-series boats displace 168 tons at full load while the B-series boats displace 155 tons, and the C-series displace 153 tons. Their compliment (all series) is 2 officers and 14 enlisted. They have a top speed of 29.5 knots, and a cruising speed of 10 knots. Their maximum cruising range is 3,928 miles. The island class boats are equipped with an active stabilization system to improving handling in heavy seas.
The A and B series Island-class boats are powered by a pair of Paxman Valenta 16RP 200M diesel engines producing 6,246 horsepower combined. The C-series boats are powered by two Caterpillar 3516 DITA diesels, rated at 5,596 horsepower combined. Propulsion is provided by two shafts fitted with 5-bladed fixed pitch screws. All of the Island-class boats are equipped with two 94Kw 3304T Caterpillar generators for electricity production.
In addition to UHF/VHF communications, the Island-class patrol boats are equipped with a SPS-73 short-range I-band surface search and navigation radar.
All of the Island-class patrol boats are equipped with a single Mk 38 25mm Bushmaster cannon. The A and B series boats are also armed with 2 M60D 7.62mm GP machine guns, while the C series boats are equipped with two M2 .50 caliber machineguns.