US Navy retires last Perry-class frigate
We don't generally report on naval decommissionings here at Autoblog Military. Then again, retirements of vessels like the USS Simpson don't exactly happen everyday.
First, and most remarkably, this is the last active duty vessel to sink another nation's ship (aside from the ancient USS Constitution). According to the US Naval Institute, Simpson participated in Operation Praying Mantis in the Persian Gulf, and took part in the sinking of an Iranian oil platform. The next day, an Iranian missile patrol boat, the Joshan, challenged a US Navy surface action group by firing a Harpoon missile at one of the ships accompanying the Simpson. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate returned fire, slamming four Standard missiles into the Joshan's superstructure. Other vessels joined in, but the Simpson was given credit for the kill.
More than even the sinking of the Joshan, though, the decommissioning of the Simpson marks the end of an era, as it represents the last Perry-class frigate in the US Navy's fleet. Originally launched in 1977, the Navy sailed just over 50 Perry-class frigates over the years, and during that time, the 4,100-ton ships had a knack for getting into trouble. In addition to the Simpson's action against the Joshan, 1988 saw the USS Samuel B. Roberts nearly sunk by a sea mine, while a pair of Iraqi Exocet anti-ship missiles hit the USS Stark the year before. Remarkably, both vessels were repaired and continued service.
While the retirement of the Simpson ends the US Navy's involvement with the Perry-class, other nations have proved keen on the still capable frigates. According to a quick Wikipedia search, both Spain and the Royal Australian Navy operate ships specifically built for them or built locally. Turkey, Egypt, Bahrain, and Pakistan, meanwhile, have purchased retired Perry-class ships.
That's the likely fate for the Simpson. According to Stars and Stripes, she's already been stripped of her weapons, had her flags lowered, and is ready for the trip to Philadelphia, where she'll likely be picked up by one of the countries listed above. The Simpson's place in the fleet will likely be taken by one of the new and controversial littoral combat ships.
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