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Antrim II (FFG-20)

(FFG-20: dp. 3,600; l. 445'0"; b. 45'0"; dr. 24'6"; s. 29 k.; cpl. 164; a. 1 mis. In., Standard missile, Harpoon, 1 76mm., 6 15.5" tt, LAMPS; cl. Oliver Hazard Perry)

The first Antrim (AK-159) is named for the county; the second honors Rear Admiral Antrim.


A lakeshore county in northwestern Michigan, organized in 1863; Bellaire is its county seat.

Richard Nott Antrim, born in Peru, Indiana, on 17 December 1907, entered the Naval Academy in 1927 and graduated on 4 June 1931. He served briefly in the llth Naval District before reporting to New York (BB-34) as fire control officer. Detached from that battleship in April 1932, he received flight instruction at the Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Fla., before serving consecutive tours of sea duty in Salinas (AO-9), Nitro (AE-2), and Trenton (CL-11).

Subsequently ordered to the Bethlehem Steel Corp., Quincy, Mass., Antrim assisted in fitting out Portland (CA-33) and, after her commissioning, served as a division officer in that heavy cruiser until the spring of 1936. After that time, he became assistant first lieutenant in Crowninshield (DD-134) before undergoing instruction in lighter-than-air (LTA) flight at NAS Lakehurst, N.J. Antrim subsequently received his naval aviator (LTA) designation, qualified for duty as an airship, kite, or free-balloon pilot. In the spring of 1938, Antrim arrived on the Asiatic Station and served as executive officer of Bittern. (AM-36) before joining Pope (DD-225) in December 1939, as her executive officer. The outbreak of war in the Pacific in December 1941 found Antrim still serving in that capacity.

During her brief wartime career, Pope played a significant part in two major engagements fought by the venerable Asiatic Fleet destroyers, the Battle of Makassar Strait and the Battle of Badoeng Strait, as well as in the last act following the Battle of the Java Sea.

In the former, Pope delivered close-range attacks that momentarily helped to delay the Japanese landings at Balikpapan. During the action, Lt. Antrim "cooly selected targets for his guns and torpedoes, placing his shots so accurately in the midst of a large Japanese convoy" and thus inflicting damage to several enemy ships. After the Battle of Badoeng Strait, Pope's commanding officer, Comdr. Welford C. Blinn, reported that his executive officer was "highly deserving of commendation for the meritorious performance of his several duties before and throughout the action." Citing Antrim as a "ready assistant in navigation, fire control, and torpedo fire," Blinn recommended him not only for a destroyer command but for a "decoration deemed appropriate." Antrim later received a Navy Cross for this service.

The Battle of the Java Sea (27 to 28 February 1942) ended all Allied hope of stemming the Japanese onslaught. In the wake of that action, the smashed Allied fleet attempted to escape the cordon of Japanese warships rapidly tightening the noose around Java. Among the small groups was one composed of the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, the destroyer HMS Encounter, and Pope.

The ships slipped out of Surabaya, Java, on the evening of 28 February, but were spotted the next day by Japanese aircraft. A surface force of cruisers and destroyers located the fleeing trio, and a fierce action ensued, with Exeter and Encounter, after having put up a stiff fight, going down under a deluge of Japanese shells. Pope, however, fought on, managing to make a temporary haven in a passing rain squall.

Unfortunately, the destroyer, one of those Asiatic Fleet flushdeckers "old enough to vote," could not elude her pursuers. Ultimately, damaged by Japanese bombs, from aircraft summoned from the carrier Ryujo, and by shells from the Japanese force, Pope began to sink, but not before all but one of her men had reached safety in life rafts and the destroyer's sole motor whaleboat. Antrim, wounded in the action, helped to gather the life rafts around the boat to facilitate the distribution of what meager supplies were available to the men. His devotion to duty during the ordeal inspired and sustained his shipmates' morale.

For three days and nights, Pope's survivors doggedly stuck together as a group until picked up by a Japanese warship and transferred to Japanese Army authorities at Makassar, in the Celebes.

There, Antrim performed an unforgettable act of personal bravery. During the early part of his imprisonment at Makassar in April 1942, he saw a Japanese guard brutally beating a fellow prisoner of war (PQW) and boldly intervened, attempting to quiet and reason with the guard, as others, and some 2,000 POW's closed in about the scene.

However, the Japanese ignored Antrim's entreaties and continued beating the prisoner unmercifully. After receiving some 15 blows with a hawser and the kicks of three other guards, the victim was almost insensible. At that instant, Antrim stepped forward. The expressions of the Japanese changed to incredulity as the lieutenant volunteered to take the remainder of the battered man's punishment. This action threw his captors off balance and drew a roar of acclaim from the Allied POW's gathered around. Antrim's stand, while saving the life of the other man, also saved his own and won new respect for the American officers and men. Later, his leadership in serving as a spokesman for his fellow POW's earned them an improvement in camp living conditions. For his conspicuous act of valor at Makassar in the spring of 1942, Antrim later received the Medal of Honor.

Subsequently, when the Japanese forced Antrim to take charge of a labor detail assigned the task of constructing slit trenches for protection during air raids, he carefully rearranged the construction work plans approved by the Japanese and gained their approval of his own ideas. Under the eyes of their captors, the POW's dug the slit trenches all right, but in a curious pattern recognizable from the air as a giant "U.S." which clearly and craftily identified the occupants of the trenches. This audacious action possibly saved hundreds of prisoners of war from mistaken bombings by Allied planes. Antrim carried out the plan in spite of the fact that discovery of his trick would have resulted in instant beheading! For that alteration of construction work, Antrim received a Bronze Star.

Ultimately liberated after the war in the Far East ended in August 1945, Antrim returned to the United States and enjoyed rehabilitation leave before attending the Repatriated POW Refresher Course at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., in May 1946. He then brushed up on his pilot training at NAS, Lakehurst, and later completed a course at the Naval War College. The valient officer, who had been listed as missing since the sinking of Pope in March 1942, received the Medal of Honor and Bronze Star from President Harry S. Truman in ceremonies at the White House on 30 January 1947.

Later, following a brief stint at the Fleet Sonar School, San Diego, Calif., in June and July 1947, Antrim went to sea in command of the destroyer Turner (DD-834). He next underwent further instruction at NAS, Lakehurst, before assuming the duties of Assistant for Lighter-than-Air Planning and Programs, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Washington, D.C., in December 1948.

Following further Washington duty, with the Policy Advisory Staff, Department of State, and the Psychological Strategy Board, Antrim commanded the attack transport Montrose (APA-212) before returning to the capital for a brief tour of duty as Head, Amphibious Warfare Matters Section, Office of the CNO, prior to his retirement on 1 April 1954. He was advanced to rear admiral on the retired list on the basis of his combat awards.

Rear Admiral Antrim died on 7 March 1969 in Mountain Home, Arkansas.


The second Antrim (FFG-20) was laid down on 21 June 1978 at Seattle, Wash., by the Seattle Division of Todd Shipyards Corp.; launched on 27 March 1979; sponsored by Mrs. Richard N. Antrim, the widow of the late Rear Admiral Antrim; and commissioned at Seattle on 26 September 1981, Comdr. William H. Wright, IV, in command.

On 1 October, Antrim departed Seattle en route to Mayport, Fla., her home port. She made stops at Mazatlan and Manzanillo before arriving in the Canal Zone on the 25th. The guided-missile frigate transited the Panama Canal on Navy Day, 27 October 1981, and continued on to Mayport where she arrived on 2 November. Antrim conducted independent ship's exercises out of Mayport on an intermittent daily basis until 20 November when she set sail for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The warship carried out shakedown training in the West Indies until 12 December. After a port visit to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., she tested and calibrated her sound equipment in the Bahamas before returning to Mayport on the 20th to commence holiday standdown.

The holiday leave and upkeep period ended on 11 January 1982 with her return to sea to conduct combat systems qualifications and trials. With that event, the guided-missile frigate resumed a normal schedule of operations out of Mayport in the local operating area and in the West Indies as well. On 26 April, Antrim departed Mayport bound ultimately for Bath, Maine, and post-shakedown availability at the Bath Iron Works. Along the way, she stopped at Yorktown, Va., to unload ordnance and atPortsmouth, N.H., for a port visit. The warship arrived in Bath on 7 May and commenced a repair period that lasted 16 weeks. She embarked upon the voyage back to Mayport on 27 August, made a series of stops en route, and entered Mayport again on 11 September. Antrim stayed in port for almost a month, putting to sea again on 8 October to carry out post-repair refresher training in the vicinity of Guantanamo Bay. The guided-missile frigate completed that mission at the beginning of November, made a brief call at Key West, and then executed advanced ASW drills in the Bahamas. She reentered Mayport on 12 November and remained there through the end of the year.

Antrim ended holiday standdown early in January 1983, returning to sea to begin training on the 4th. At the beginning of February, she sailed north to Norfolk whence she conducted weapons testing and training. On 10 February, while she was engaged in those evolutions, a target drone skipped off the surface and struck Antrim causing a fire in the wardroom and in her electronics spaces. The accident killed a civilian instructor embarked in the warship. Antrim returned to Mayport and passed the rest of February engaged in repairs. The warship completed her weapons training and testing during March and spent most of April preparing to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea and in the Middle East. On 29 April, the guided-missile frigate stood out of Mayport on her way to the Strait of Gibraltar.

She entered the Mediterranean on 9 May and joined the 6th Fleet. Antrim carried out normal 6th Fleet training operations until the second week in June. On 11 June, the warship transited the legendary Straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles and entered the Black Sea. For eight days, she conducted operations in the Black Sea and, during that time, also paid a four-day visit to Constanta, Romania. Antrim renegotiated the famous Straits of antiquity again on 19 June and resumed her operational schedule as a unit of the 6th Fleet. On 1 August, the guided-missile frigate passed through the Suez Canal and shaped a course for the Persian Gulf. Following a brief stop at Djibouti on 3 August, she began duty as a radar picket ship on the 4th. Except for a port call at Karachi, Pakistan, from 27 September to 4 October, Antrim, served in the Persian Gulf for almost three months. She carried out turnover formalities with her relief at Djibouti on 30 October, transited the Suez Canal on 4 November, and laid in a course for Rota, Spain. After stopping at Rota briefly on the 10th, Antrim set out across the Atlantic. She arrived in Mayport on 21 November and stood down for the last weeks of the year.

The relative inactivity of the final month of 1983 carried over into and through the first month of 1984. Antrim did not put to sea again until the first week in February. On the 3d, the warship got underway for the coast of Central America. After a call at Puerto de Cortez, Honduras, on the 6th and 7th, she transited the Panama Canal on the 10th. For almost seven weeks, Antrim conducted operations off the western shores of Central America from the base at Rodman in the Canal Zone. On 28 March, she travelled back through the canal and set her course for Mayport. The guided-missile frigate stood into her home port on 2 April. She passed the bulk of the month engaged in repairs, completing post-repair sea trials on the 26th and 27th. On 28 April, Antrim headed north for port visits at Newport, R.I., and Portsmouth, N.H., followed by plane guard duty for Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69).

The warship returned to Mayport on 11 May and resumed local operations 10 days later. At the end of June, she headed for Guantanamo Bay whence she carried out refresher training until the end of July. After visiting Charleston at the end of the first week in August, Antrim arrived back in Mayport on the 11th. On 20 August, the guided-missile frigate began a two-month restricted availability at Mayport. She wrapped up the repair period with sea trials on 22 and 23 October and a stop at Charleston on the 24th to load ordnance material. Back in Mayport on 26 October, Antrim executed training missions in the local operating area until early in December when she began preparations for overseas movement.

Holiday routine interrupted those preparations late in December, but the pace quickened in January 1985 as her February departure date drew near. On 4 February, Antrim stood out of Mayport on her way across the Atlantic. She made a short call at Rota, Spain, for fuel on St. Valentine's Day 1985 before passing through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean Sea. The warship made an expeditious transit of the Mediterranean, stopping only at Palma de Mallorca and Augusta Bay, Sicily, before negotiating the Suez Canal on 27 February. Steamingthence through the Red Sea and around the Arabian Peninsula, Antrim passed through the Strait of Hormuz on 9 March and entered the Persian Gulf. While cruising on radar picket station in the Persian Gulf, Antrim received a distress call from the Liberian-flag motor vessel, Caribbean Breeze, that had suffered an Iranian missile attack to her bridge. The guided-missile frigate and her embarked helicopter detachment, HSL-36, Del. 1, rendered assistance to the stricken vessel. Antrim, then continued her surveillance patrols of the troubled waters of the Persian Gulf until the end of the third week in April.

At that time, she departed the gulf for a little more than a week to make a port call at Karachi, Pakistan. Back on station in the Persian Gulf at the end of April, Antrim responded to another call for help on 2 May after the Iranians attacked another motor vessel, Nordic Trader, with missiles. Again, the warship and her helicopter detachment evacuated casualties. Her remaining two months of surveillance patrols in the Persian Gulf provided no further untoward incidents. She turned her responsibilities over to Klakring (FFG-42) and Reid (FFG-30) on 5 July and shaped a course via Djibouti and the Red Sea to the Suez Canal. Through the canal on the 14th, she made a single stop, at Valencia, Spain, on her voyage across the Mediterranean.

After a short pause at Rota on the 24th for fuel, the warship embarked upon the Atlantic passage that same day. On 5 August, one month to the day after her relief, Antrim pulled into Mayport. Post-deployment standdown occupied the remainder of August, but she resumed local operations out of Mayport early in September. During the latter half of November, the warship voyaged to the coast of Colombia, South America, to assist in a multinational operation against drug smugglers. She returned to Mayport at the beginning of December and, following a short period of local operations, settled into holiday routine. As of the beginning of 1987, Antrim was at Mayport.

Published: Thu Jun 18 08:02:24 EDT 2015