Naval History and Heritage Command

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Operation Praying Mantis


USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58)

USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) underway after the ship struck a mine on 14 April 1988. A USMC CH-47 Sea Knight helicopter is on the helicopter pad. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph. Catalog #: DN-SC-88-08601.


On 18 April 1988, the U.S. Navy launched Operation Praying Mantis against Iranian targets in the Arabian Gulf in retaliation for USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) mining four days earlier, which blew an immense hole in the ship’s hull. Ten Sailors from Samuel B. Roberts sustained severe injuries. Four were seriously burned. Commander Paul X. Rinn was hurt as well. The ship should have sunk, but thanks to an extraordinary damage control effort by all hands of an extremely well-trained crew, Samuel B. Roberts was kept afloat. 

The U.S. response was fierce. Operation Praying Mantis was the largest of five major U.S. Navy surface actions since World War II. It was the first, and so far only, time the U.S. Navy has exchanged surface-to-surface missile fire with an enemy, and it resulted in the largest warship sunk by the U.S. Navy since WWII. In the one-day operation, the U.S. Navy destroyed two Iranian surveillance platforms, sank two of their ships, and severely damaged another. 

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USS Samuel B. Roberts

An aerial port quarter view of the Dutch heavy-lift ship Mighty Servant 2 underway with its cargo, the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), secured on deck. Samuel B. Roberts is enroute to its home port of Newport, Rhode Island, after hitting an Iranian mine on 14 April 14 1988. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph. Catalog #: DN-ST-88-08272.



Marines insped antiaircraft gun

Marines inspect a ZU-23 23mm automatic antiaircraft gun on the Iranian Sassan oil platform. Marines attacked, occupied, then destroyed the platform as part of Operation Praying Mantis which was launched after the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) struck a mine on 14 April 1988. National Archives Identifier: 6482409.



Operation Praying Mantis

Operation Praying Mantis, April 1988. Aerial view of the Iranian frigate IS Alvand (71) burning after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from USS Enterprise (CVN-65). IS Alvand was hit by three Harpoon Missiles plus cluster munitions. Official U.S. Navy photograph. Catalog #: 880418-N-ZZ999-005.



A-6E Intruder

PERSIAN GULF (18 April 1988) An air-to-air left side view of an A-6E Intruder aircraft bombing Iranian targets during Operation Praying Mantis. (U.S. Navy photo)



Iranian frigate Is Sahand (74) burns

PERSIAN GULF (18 April 1988) The Iranian frigate Is Sahand (74) burns after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The attack was part of Operation Praying Mantis. IS Sahand was hit by three Harpoon missiles plus cluster munitions. (U.S. Navy photo)



USS Samuel B. Roberts

A view of damage to the hull of USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) while in dry dock in Bahrain. The damage was sustained when the ship struck a mine while on patrol in the Persian Gulf on 14 April 1988. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph. Catalog #: DN-SN-93-01455.



Iranian Sassan oil platform burns

The main building of the Iranian Sassan oil platform burns after being hit by a BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) missile fired from a Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter. The attack was part of Operation Praying Mantis. National Archives Identifier: 6482406.



Operation Praying Mantis

Operation Praying Mantis, 14 April 1988. A view of an Iranian oil platform after being strafed by U.S. forces. Marines raided the platform to gather intelligence data and military equipment used by Iranians. The platform was later destroyed by gunfire from U.S. destroyers in retaliation for the Iranian mining of the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 330-CFD-DN-SN-89-03136.



Operation Praying Mantis

Operation Praying Mantis, April 1988. An aerial view of the Iranian frigate IS Sahand burning after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in retaliation for the mining of the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) in the Persian Gulf, 18 April 1988. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives: Online Public Access. Catalog #: 330-CFD-DN-SN-89-03125.



Operation Praying Mantis

Operation Praying Mantis, 14 April 1988. A view of Iranian oil platforms, the target of U.S. retaliation for the mining of the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 330-CFD-DN-SN-89-03127.


Published: Fri Sep 13 09:19:28 EDT 2019