The United States Navy decommissioned its last Perry-class frigate, reducing the Navy’s number of ships that have sunk an enemy vessel to just one. The end of the Navy’s frigates marks a new era of naval warfare where ships are less likely to go to battle in the open sea.
The USS Simpson removed its weapons, covered its windows, and lowered its flags in September. Now, the ship will be stored to Philadelphia until a foreign nation buys it.
After 30 years of service, including an April 1988 battle when it fired missiles at and sank an Iranian oil platform and an Iranian Navy vessel, the ship’s service came to an end with a ceremony at Mayport Naval Station. Now the only active Navy ship that has sunk an enemy is the USS Constitution, which did so during the War of 1812.
The story of the Simpson’s combat action began in January 1988, during its first overseas deployment to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will. It was to escort reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers during the Iran–Iraq War. On 17 April 1988, Simpson took part in Operation Praying Mantis, the U.S. response to the mining of the frigate Samuel B. Roberts, which hit an Iranian M-08 mine on 14 April 1988.
On 18 April, Simpson, along with Wainwright and Bagley, destroyed Iranian naval and intelligence facilities on the oil platform Sirri in the Persian Gulf. Later that day, the ships encountered the Iranian Kaman-class (Combatte II type) missile patrol boat Joshan, which launched a Harpoon missile. Simpson immediately returned missile fire, striking Joshan in her superstructure. Joshan was then sunk by combined gunfire. Simpson was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Combat Action Ribbon for this operation, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the deployment.
Last of a Breed
The Simpson was built and commissioned in the waning years of the Cold War. It searched for and escorted submarines, and it fought narcotics traffickers and pirates. The ship’s most recent security missions occurred in the Mediterranean Sea.She was the final Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in service in the United States Fleet, with a planned decommissioning date of Sept. 30, 2015, although she was decommissioned a day earlier, on Sept. 29, 2015.