Local Navy sailor serving on Bahrain-based ship

A 2007 Bristol Central High School graduate and Bristol, Conn. native is serving overseas aboard the U.S. Navy Coastal Patrol Ship USS Whirlwind (PC-11), living and working at a Navy base in Manama, Bahrain.

Seaman Christopher Malenfant is a quartermaster on the Bahrain-based ship. Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Arabian Gulf.

A Navy quartermaster is responsible for the navigation of a ship and makes sure it travels through the waters safely.

“The operation tempo is high speed,” said Malenfant in a news feature prepared by the Navy. “There’s always something going on with multiple tasks that all need to be done at the same time and usually not in your job description.”

The Whirlwind was commissioned in 1995 and is one of the Navy’s 13 Cyclone class ships designed for coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance.

These ships provide the U.S. Navy with a fast, reliable platform that can respond to crises in a shallow water environment.

“It’s a small crew so you get to know everyone,” said Malenfant in the Navy story. “Everybdy helps each other out and there’s no room for enemies.”

The Whirlwind is 179 feet long, 25 feet wide and is powered by four diesel engines and can reach speeds of more than 40 mph. Its armament is made up of eight total machine guns and two grenade launchers: two MK 38 25mm machine guns, four .50 caliber machine guns, two M60 machine guns and two MK 19 40mm automatic grenade launchers.

With approximately four officers and 25 enlisted comprising the ship’s company, jobs are highly varied which keeps the ship mission ready — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the propulsion system.

As a member of the crew, Malenfant and other Whirlwind Sailors know they are part of a forward-deployed naval forces team that is heavily relied upon to help protect and defend America on the world’s oceans.

“The pay isn’t bad and it’s a great experience seeing other countries and cultures, said Malenfant in the Navy news story. “And just being on a ship in the middle of the open sea with nothing but the horizon to look at is a great feeling.”

In addition to the Whirlwind, another seven Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships and two Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships are forward deployed in Bahrain.

The world is increasingly complex and crewmembers aboard the Whirlwind, as well as the other forward-deployed naval vessels in Bahrain, assist with assuring international sea lines between the Middle East and Europe remain open and help protect against possible maritime threats, said the Navy’s story.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, deployed halfway around the world away from friends and family back home, the Navy release reported Malenfant said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor, and a person.

“In the Navy you learn the importance of team effort and what it takes to get the job done,” said Malenfant in the story from the U.S. Navy.