Category Archives: Other ships

Mine Struck Frigate Returned


FROM: Dubai, U.A.E.

CLIENT: American Sealift Command, Washington, U.S.A.

TO: Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

PROJECT SUMMARY: Special recesses had been made in the deck of Mighty Servant 2 for accommodating the frigate’s protruding sonar dome and stabilizing fins. Due to tolerances of a mere few centimetres the loading operation took approx. 12 hours. Underwater, the positioning of the minestricken frigate Samual B. Roberts was carefully controlled by divers and by a video monitoring system. During the voyage Mighty Servant 2 served as a sailing dry dock as the frigate’s crew remained on board and conducted maintenance work.


VESSEL: Mighty Servant 2

CARGO PARTICULARS: Type frigate Weight 4,000 tons Length o.a. 125 metres Width 14.3 metres

LOAD-OUT OPERATION: Loading float-on Discharging float-off

TRANSIT TIME: 8,100 miles: 30 days [from]

Awards For Persian Gulf Actions

Awards For Persian Gulf Actions

On 14 April 1988, USS Samuel B. Roberts, on routine patrol in the central Persian Gulf struck an M-80 mine. Even while the crew of “Sammy B.” worked heroically to save their crippled warship, U.S. planners developed an appropriate, measured action against Iran in response to that country’s mining of international waters.

Three surface action groups (SAG’s) were assembled to take part in Operation PRAYING MANTIS, a planned strike against two Iranian oil platforms identified as staging points for patrol boats used to attack merchant shipping in the Gulf. SAG’s Bravo and Charlie would strike the platforms while SAG Delta acted as a deterrent to hostile Iranian naval activity in the Strait of Hormuz.

SAG Bravo commanded by CAPT James B. Perkins, COMDESRON NINE and consisting of USS Merrill (DD 976), CDR C. Covington commanding, USS Lynde McCormick (DDG 8), CDR Terrance T. Etnyre commanding and USS Trenton (LPD 14), CAPT Robert M. Nutwell commanding took its position near the Iranian Sassan gas/oil platform on 18 April 1988. Prior to opening fire, SAG Bravo warned personnel on the platform of the impending strike and ordered them to abandon their position. Although some of the platform personnel did leave, others remained and opened fire on the SAG with a 23 mm cannon. Merrill responded and fire from the platform was quickly suppressed.

As the remaining platform personnel took flight in a rubber raft, approaching Iranian F-4’s re-focused the SAG’s attention on the UP, OUT, and DOWN nature of modern surface action. The Phantoms turned away before a confrontation with SAG Bravo ships took place.

Hostile fire neutralized and the platform evacuated, Marines from Trenton boarded the rig. After surveying the platform for intelligence material, they set explosive charges and departed. The charges were detonated and the platform was damaged so severely that it was militarily useless.

Less than 100 miles away, SAG Charlie, commanded by CAPT James F. Chandler, CO of USS Wainwright (CG 28), and including USS Simpson (FFG 56), CDR James J. McTigue commanding and USS Bagley (FF 1069), CDR Keith P. Bersticker commanding, took position to strike the Sirri gas/oil platform.

As at Sassan, personnel on the Sirri platform were given time to evacuate before SAG Charlie opened fire. Within thirty minutes, smoke and fire completely engulfed the rig. As the SAG withdrew the 154-ft, 2334-ton Iranian Kaman-class fast attack craft Joshan armed with Harpoon antiship cruise missiles closed on the U.S. force. Ignoring three warnings from Wainwright, the French-built Iranian missile craft continued its hostile approach on SAG Charlie. At the same time an Iranian F-4 was detected, also closing the SAG.

In response to the warnings, Joshan fired an antiship missile at Wainwright. Simpson, directed to engage Joshan, immediately returned fire with three surface-to-surface missiles. Wainwright fired two SAM’s at the Iranian Phantom then Bagley and Wainwright joined Simpson in the surface engagement against Joshan with Wainwright and Simpson firing one more surface-to-surface missile apiece and Bagley firing a harpoon missile.

The F-4, apparently damaged, descended rapidly and made a rum for Iran. Joshan, though heavily damaged and burning furiously from the missile hits, did not sink. SAG Bravo sent the wallowing hulk to the bottom with gunfire.

As surface actions unfolded to the west, SAG Delta, commanded by CAPT Donald A. Dryer, COMDESRON 22, and consisting of USS Jack Williams (FFG 24), CDR Edward Mann commanding, USS O’Brien (DD 975), CDR R. James Abbott commanding and USS Joseph Strauss (DDG 16), CDR Samuel K. Anderson commanding, continued their security patrol near the Strait of Hormuz.

The SAG’s presence was justified as the Iranian missile frigate Sahand, sortied from its anchorage at Bandar Abbas. The 310-ft, 1220-ton ship initiated hostile action by opening fire on A-6’s sent by USS Enterprise (CVN 65), CAPT Robert J. Spane commanding, to identify the Iranian ship. In the first coordinated antiship missile attack using surface and air assets, Joseph Strauss and the A-6’s launched a total of three Harpoon missiles against Sahand. The missile attack was followed by a laser-guided bomb dropped from an A-6 which left the Iranian frigate a sinking hulk.

A second Iranian missile frigate, Sabalan, sistership of Sahand, also sortied from Bandar Abbas. Sabalan was damaged by laser-guided bomb hits after the frigate opened fire on aircraft from Enterprise.

All ships received the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Combat Action Ribbon. Sailors assigned or attached to the ships (and temporarily assigned sailors deemed necessary by the ship’s commanding officer) who were actually present and participated in Operation PRAYING MANTIS are authorized to wear these awards permanently.

The Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” was awarded to 14 sailors and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” was awarded to 15 sailors from the three SAG’s.

As printed in Surface Warfare Magazine May/June 1989 issue.


USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58)

Since the year 1800, speedy, highly maneuverable, well-equipped ships known as frigates, have operated on the high seas of the world. These capable, multi-purpose warships have performed as scouts, messengers, escorts, and ambassadors of their nation’s foreign policy.

The United States Navy has an impressive record of producing superb frigates, which have distinguished themselves with outstanding performance. The list extends from the frigates Constellation and Constitution to today’s finest frigate, USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58).

Samuel B. Roberts’ mission is to provide, air, submarine and surface protection for carrier battle groups, underway replenishment forces, amphibious groups and convoys. Her unique combination of modern sensors and advance weapons systems allows this ship to fight and survive in the highly complex threat environment of the 1900s and beyond. Samuel B. Roberts’ combat systems capability allows it to rapidly evaluate threats, conduct appropriate weapons selection, and provide near-instantaneous response to any postulated attack. The systems aboard the ship have been designed to meet these demanding and dynamic prerequisites, and to do so with minimum human interface. Her weapons include long-range, surface-to-surface, and medium-range, surface-to-air missiles, a 76mm gun, Vulcan Phalanx Close-in-Weapons System (CIWS) and anti-submarine torpedoes. Samuel B. Roberts’ is also equipped to carry two LAMPS MK III multi-purpose Helicopters. The Avionics package, airborne sensors, and tactical data systems incorporated in this helicopter, allow the ship to locate and strike at hostile surface and subsurface forces will beyond the horizon, and long before Samuel B. Roberts’ is detected by their sensors. Rounding out Samuel B. Roberts’ combat systems suite is the world’s most effective surface passive ASW system, thus completing the highly sophisticated package.

In today’s combat environment, the ability to respond quickly and effectively is the key to success. All of Samuel B. Roberts’ systems are designed to meet this important requirement. Samuel B. Roberts’ is powered by two LM-2500 gas turbine jet engines. The ship’s engineering plant utilizes a computer-controlled gas turbine power plant with engines similar to those found on the Air Force and DC-10 jetliners, and may be brought “on-the-line”, ready to operate in the than one-eighth the time required for a conventional steam or nuclear-powered ship. These engines provide the ship with a remarkably responsive acceleration rate, and the best capability to react to the needs of the Battle Group Commander in defense of his forces.

The true heart of the ship, and the reason for its ability to meet all of its assignments, is the Crew. High technology state-of-the-art systems require skilled technicians and professional leadership. These men operate and maintain these systems daily, miles from any external support or technical assistance. The ship performs and completes its fifteen assigned tasks representing the people of the United States, because these men are dedicated men, who today, welcome you aboard the U.S. Navy’s finest guided missile frigate, USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58).

[source: FFG 58]

The Roberts was struck by a mine on April 14, 1988, in the Persian Gulf. Here to see how it was towed home.

More about the operation in which it was struck.