American Frigate strikes a mine in the Persian Gulf

American Frigate strikes a mine in the Persian Gulf ... 14/04/1988 History, #2015, #Airbus, #American, #Arab, #Atlantic, #Bahrain, #Dubai, #Dutch, #Emirates, #F-14, #Florida, #Germany, #Hormuz, #International_Court_of_Justice, #Iran, #Iran_Air, #Iran_Air_Flight_655, #Iran_Ajr, #Iranian, #Iran–Iraq_War, #Iraq, #January, #Kuwait, #Marine, #Maritime, #Newport, #Operation_Nimble_Archer, #Persian, #Persian_Gulf, #Philadelphia, #Portland, #Praying, #Praying_Mantis, #Princeton, #Red_Sea, #Rhode_Island, #SEAL, #Sahand, #San_Jose, #Sassan, #Second_World_War, #September, #Servant, #Strait_of_Hormuz, #U.N, #US, #United_Arab_Emirates, #United_States, #Vietnam, #Vietnam_War, #Vincennes, #World_War_II

On 14 April 1988, 65 miles (105 km) east of Bahrain, the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts hit a mine, blowing an immense hole in its hull. 10 sailors were injured. The U.S. retaliated fiercely. On 18 April, U.S. forces launched Operation Praying Mantis, attacking the Iranian frigates Sabalan and Sahand and Revolutionary Guard bases in the Sirri and Sassan oil fields. After U.S. warships bombarded the Sirri base (located on an oil platform) and set it ablaze, a UH-60 helicopter with a SEAL platoon flew toward the platform but was unable to get close enough because of the roaring fire. Secondary explosions soon wrecked the platform.
Operation Praying Mantis was an attack on 18 April 1988, by U.S. forces within Iranian territorial waters in retaliation for the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq War and the subsequent damage to an American warship.
On 14 April, the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine while deployed in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, the 1987–88 convoy missions in which U.S. warships escorted reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. The explosion blew a 4.5 m (15-foot) hole in the Samuel B. Roberts's hull and nearly sank it. The crew saved their ship with no loss of life, and the Samuel B. Roberts was towed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 16 April. After the mining, U.S. Navy divers recovered other mines in the area. When the serial numbers were found to match those of mines seized along with the Iran Ajr the previous September, U.S. military officials planned a retaliatory operation against Iranian targets in the Persian Gulf.
According to Bradley Peniston, the attack by the U.S. helped pressure Iran to agree to a ceasefire with Iraq later that summer, ending the eight-year conflict between the Persian Gulf neighbors.
On 6 November 2003, the International Court of Justice ruled that "the actions of the United States of America against Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 (Operation Nimble Archer) and 18 April 1988 (Operation Praying Mantis) cannot be justified as measures necessary to protect the essential security interests of the United States of America." However, the International Court of Justice dismissed Iran's claim that the attack by United States Navy was a breach of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between the two countries as it only pertained to vessels, not platforms.
This battle was the largest of the five major U.S. surface engagements since the Second World War, which also include the Battle of Chumonchin Chan during the Korean War, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Battle of Dong Hoi during the Vietnam War, and the Action in the Gulf of Sidra in 1986. It also marked the U.S. Navy's first exchange of anti-ship missiles with opposing ships and the only occasion since World War II on which the US Navy sank a major surface combatant.
By the end of the operation, U.S. air and surface units had sunk, or severely damaged, half of Iran's operational fleet.
Thereafter, Iranian attacks on neutral ships dropped drastically. On 3 July 1988, USS Vincennes, while engaged in a fierce gun duel with Iranian boats, mistook Iran Air Flight 655 for an Iranian F-14 and shot it down over the Strait of Hormuz. All 290 passengers and aircrew aboard the Airbus A300B2 died, including 66 children.
The two effects of Earnest Will – Praying Mantis and the airliner's downing – helped convince Iran to agree to a ceasefire on 18 July 1988 and a permanent end to hostilities on 20 August 1988, ending its eight-year war with Iraq.
On 26 September 1988, USS Vandegrift escorted the operation's last tanker to Kuwait. The remaining SEALs, patrol boats, and helicopters then returned to the U.S.
Samuel B. Roberts deployed from her home port in Newport, Rhode Island, in January 1988, heading for the Persian Gulf to participate in Operation Earnest Will, the escort of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers during the Iran–Iraq War. Samuel B. Roberts had arrived in the Persian Gulf and was heading for a refueling rendezvous with San Jose on 14 April when the ship struck an M-08 naval mine in the central Persian Gulf, an area she had safely transited a few days earlier. The mine blew a 15-foot (4.6 m) hole in the hull, flooded the engine room, and knocked the two gas turbines from their mounts. The blast also broke the keel of the ship; such structural damage is almost always fatal to most vessels. The crew fought fire and flooding for five hours and saved the ship. Among other steps, sailors cinched cables on the cracked superstructure in an effort to stabilize it. She used her auxiliary thrusters to get out of the mine field at 5 kn (5.8 mph; 9.3 km/h). According to How We Fight, by the US Naval War College, the ship never lost combat capability with her radars and Mk13 missile launcher. However, according to No Higher Honor by Bradley Peniston, the ship lost power for at least five minutes. After power was lost, the radars were disconnected to allow restoration of the power grid. The ship lost track of an Sa'am frigate and an Iranian P-3 that it had been monitoring. Ten sailors were medevaced by HC-5 CH-46s embarked on San Jose for injuries sustained in the blast; six returned to Samuel B. Roberts in a day or so. Four burn victims were sent for treatment to a military hospital in Germany, and eventually to medical facilities in the United States.
When U.S. divers recovered several unexploded mines, they found that their serial numbers matched the sequence on mines seized the previous September aboard an Iranian mine-layer named Iran Ajr. Four days later, U.S. forces retaliated against Iran in Operation Praying Mantis, a one-day campaign that was the largest American surface engagement since World War II. U.S. ships, aircraft, and troops destroyed two Iranian oil platforms allegedly used to control Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf, sank one Iranian frigate, damaged another, and sank at least three armed high-speed boats. The U.S. lost one Marine helicopter and its crew of two airmen in what appeared to be a night maneuver accident rather than a result of hostile operations.
On 27 June 1988, Samuel B. Roberts was loaded onto Mighty Servant 2, a semi-submersible heavy lift ship owned by Dutch shipping firm Wijsmuller Transport and carried back to Newport for $1.3 million. The frigate arrived at BIW's Portland, Maine, yard on 6 October 1988 for repairs. The repair job was unique: the entire engine room was cut out of the hull, and a 315-ton replacement module was jacked up and welded into place. She undocked 1 April 1989 for sea trials.
The repairs were completed three weeks ahead of schedule at a cost of $89.5 million, $3.5 million less than expected. By comparison, Princeton, which was damaged by a moored mine during the 1991 Gulf War, was repaired for $24 million; however, the cruiser was not directly struck by the mine and her displacement is nearly twice that of Samuel B. Roberts. The mine that nearly sank Samuel B. Roberts had an estimated cost of $1,500.
After 13 months of repairs, Samuel B. Roberts was returned to service in a 16 October 1989 ceremony.
After repair
Samuel B. Roberts made her second deployment in 1990 for Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. The frigate operated as part of the Red Sea Maritime Interception Force, an international force of ships that enforced U.N. sanctions against Iraq. The frigate's sailors boarded more than 100 merchant ships in efforts to prevent cargo shipments to or from Iraq. On 28 March 1991, she returned to Newport.
"Sammy B", as the ship is sometimes called, was later homeported in Mayport, Florida.
On 30 August 1991, Joseph A. Sestak took command of Samuel B. Roberts, which was named the Atlantic Fleet's best surface combatant in the 1993 Battenberg Cup competition.
Samuel B. Roberts was decommissioned at Mayport on 22 May 2015, then towed to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia. The ship is slated to be dismantled.
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