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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Surprise

 

IV

 

(PG-97: dp. 247  (full); l. 165'; b. 24'; dr. 5'; s. 37 k. (tl.) ; cpl. 24; a. 1 3", 1 40mm., 4 .50 cal. mg.; cl. Asheville)

 

The fourth Surprise (PG-97), a patrol gunboat, was laid down at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., on 24 May 1968 by the Peterson Builders Shipyard; launched on 7 December 1968; sponsored by Miss Marsha L. Peterson; and, after a pre-commissioning voyage through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, was commissioned at Boston, Mass., on 17 October 1969, Lt. William T. Shiffer, Jr., in command.

 

Surprise completed fitting out in Boston on 12 November, when she got underway for Little Creek, Va. Along the way, she stopped at New York and loaded ammunition at Crane, N.J. She reached Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base on 18 November and, through the first week of 1970, she operated from that base, conducting training. During that period she also made a visit to Washington, D.C., where she demonstrated her capabilities to military and civilian officials.

 

On 12 January 1970, Surprise departed Little Creek for her new homeport, San Diego, Calif. At Mayport, Fla., she and her traveling companion, Beacon (PG-99), were joined by a third gunboat, Green Bay (PG-101). The three ships made their way-via Port Everglades, Fla., and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba-to Panama. Surprise transited the canal on 22 January and, on the 24th, continued her voyage. The formation was joined by Duluth (LPD-6) on the 28th and steamed into San Diego on 7 February.

 

The gunboat conducted shakedown training out of San Diego until early April. Then she engaged in normal operations until 13 May when she entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for six weeks of post-shakedown availability. Surprise completed the yard period on 9 July and returned to San Diego. She resumed training exercises until the end of August, when she reentered Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

 

On 20 September, her homeport was switched back to Little Creek, Va., and on 8 October she departed San Diego to return to the east coast. She re-transited the Panama Canal on 21 October and made Little Creek ten days later. On 16 November, she departed Little Creek to rendezvous with Amphibious Group 2 for the voyage to the Mediterranean Sea. She arrived at Rota, Spain, on 1 December and shifted operational control to the 6th Fleet.

 

Surprise served with the 6th Fleet until February 1973. During that period, she participated in a number of exercises both with units of foreign navies and with other elements of the 6th Fleet. Throughout her tour, she visited numerous ports on the Mediterranean littoral, including Naples, Soudha Bay, Monaco, Cartagena, and Venice. On two occasions, she ventured out of the Mediterranean. From 18 to 22 October 1971, she visited Istanbul, Turkey, and, from 11 to 15 March 1972, she put into Casablanca op the Atlantic coast of North Africa.

 

On 29 January 1973, Surprise's prospective Turkish crew assembled in Naples and the gunboat began preparations for decommissioning and turnover to the Turkish Navy. The Turks trained in Surprise under the guidance of the American crewmen until 16 February. She then departed Naples for Turkey, arriving at Izmir on the 19th. On 28 February 1973, Surprise was decommissioned and turned over to the Turkish Navy on loan. As of February 1975, she served the Turks as Bora.

 

 

USS Surprise (PG-97) on trials, 1969. This fast gunboat is powered by geared Diesel engines for cruising, with a gas turbine which can be cut in for high speeds. She is armed with a director-controlled 3-inch 50-caliber automatic dual-purpose gun forward and a 40-millimeter Bofors gun aft. Pairs of .50-caliber machine guns are mounted on the upper deck amidships, one each to port and starboard.