Named in honor of Capt. Michael John Estocin, a fighter pilot with Attack Squadron (VA) 192 killed in action on 26 April 1967, while on a mission to neutralize surface-to-air missiles near Haiphong, North Vietnam. Estocin was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his service.
(FFG-15: displacement 3,600; length 445'; beam 47'; draft 24'6"; speed 28+ knots; complement 176; aircraft 2 Kaman SH-2 Seasprites; armament Standard, Harpoon, 1 76- millimeter, 6 torpedo tubes; class Oliver Hazard Perry)
Estocin (FFG-15) was laid down on 2 April 1979 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works Corp.; launched on 3 November 1979; and sponsored by Mrs. Quay Marie H. Estocin, widow of the ship’s namesake.
Commissioned at her building yard on 10 January 1981, Cmdr. John H. Todd in command, Estocin -- 60% of her plankowners having never previously been on board a Navy ship -- departed Bath on 12 January 1981 and began her shakedown. Estocin made her first port visit at New York City (16–18 January) and then proceeded to Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle, Colts Neck, N. J., to load ammunition. She arrived at her home port of Mayport, Fla., on 23 January, reporting to Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 8.
Following a two-week upkeep period, Estocin sailed for Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for modified refresher training. While steaming off the coast of Florida on 9 February 1981, the guided missile frigate assisted in the apprehension of a vessel transporting illegal narcotics. Arriving at Guantánamo Bay on the 11th, Estocin completed her operational propulsion plant examination (OPPE) and conducted refresher training into early March. She then called at San Juan, P.R. (4–7 March), Roosevelt Roads, P.R. (8–10 March), and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (11–14 March). The frigate returned home to Mayport on 15 March and spent the rest of the month in upkeep.
From 1 April into early May 1981, Estocin operated locally conducting combat systems ship qualification trials (CSSQT). Sailing from Mayport on 4 May, she put in to Roosevelt Roads on the 7th and conducted Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Project J554-1 concerning ionization detection and phase II of the Shipboard Electromagnetic Compatibility Improvement Program (SEMCIP) for the duration of the voyage. The ship completed a missile exercise at the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility on the 8th and stopped at Freeport, Bahamas (13–14 May) before returning to Mayport on 16 May. Estocin’s shakedown period concluded with Harpoon missile certification in mid-May and her final contractor trials (1–5 June).
Getting underway again on 20 June 1981, Estocin sailed to Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Va., to offload ammunition (22 June). She then proceeded up the Chesapeake Bay to Point Patience, Md., where (23–27 June) the frigate conducted testing at the Electromagnetic Pulse Radiation Environmental Ship Simulator (EMPRESS) for another CNO project before returning to Mayport on 30 June. In mid-July, she steamed north to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. During her visit (18–21 July), Vice Adm. Andrew Fulton, Commander Maritime Command of the Royal Canadian Navy, visited Estocin to evaluate the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate design for use as a potential new class of frigate in the Royal Canadian Navy.
On 23 July 1981, Estocin returned to Bath Iron Works for a three-month post-shakedown availability. During the yard period, workers installed the AN/SQS-56 sonar and the AN/SLQ-32(V2) electronic support measures suite. After sea trials on 15 October, the availability concluded on the 21st. Estocin then steamed south, stopping at NWS Earle for an ordnance onload (26–27 October) before making her second visit to New York City (28–31 October). She depermed at Norfolk, Va. (2–4 November) and then sailed into Chesapeake Bay to carry out a mission off Randle Cliffs Beach on 5 November. Refueling at Norfolk on the 6th, Estocin next headed to Florida, accomplishing SEMCIP Phase III while en route. She paused only briefly at Mayport to fuel and then continued south to Port Everglades for weapons systems accuracy trials in port (10–12 November) and at the Advanced Underwater Test Engineering Center (AUTEC) range off Andros Island in the Bahamas (14–17 November). The ship conducted two days of helicopter operations in the Jacksonville operating area before finally returning to Mayport on 20 November. Estocin spent the rest of 1981 preparing for refresher training, completing her training readiness evaluation (TRE) from 23–24 November.
Estocin put to sea on 8 January 1982 en route to Guantánamo Bay, where the frigate demonstrated her operational readiness to deploy by completing her refresher training with outstanding scores in less than four weeks. She returned to Mayport on 7 February, nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. Sailing again on 18 February, she stopped at Port Everglades (20–21 February) before returning to the AUTEC range for advanced antisubmarine warfare (ASW) training (23–25 February). After returning to Mayport on the 27th, the ship held an intermediate maintenance availability for the entire month of March as she prepared for her upcoming first overseas deployment. Estocin completed sea trials on 15 April followed by ReadiEx 2-82 through 9 May, after which she entered the pre-overseas movement period. On 2 June, the ship conducted a dependents’ cruise with the aircraft carrier Forrestal (CV-59), which proved all the more special for the crew with the presence of family members of the late Capt. Michael J. Estocin, the frigate’s namesake, including his widow and ship sponsor Marie, eldest daughter Kathryn, his sister Margaret Ann, and his youngest brother James.
Steaming from Mayport on 8 June 1982, Estocin sailed for the Mediterranean on her first overseas deployment with a detachment from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 36 embarked. Reaching the Mediterranean and “inchopping” to the Sixth Fleet on the 19th, the frigate proceeded to Naples, Italy, where she anchored from 21–22 June. On the evening of the 22nd, she got underway to participate in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) exercise Daily Double 1-82 through 28 June and then returned to Naples (29 June–8 July).
Standing out of Naples on 9 July 1982, Estocin steamed to the eastern Mediterranean to assume station offshore from Beirut, Lebanon. One month earlier, on 6 June, Israel invaded Lebanon following an assassination attempt on an Israeli diplomat in London, and eight days later, Israeli forces surrounded Beirut, the center of operations for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). In July, the United States agreed to send marines into Beirut as part of a multi-national force sent to maintain order and protect civilians as the PLO withdrew from the city. Estocin and other U.S. warships were positioned off the coast to support the force. Save for a port call at Athens, Greece (17–19 July), Estocin remained in the vicinity of Beirut through the end of the month.
At the end of July 1982, Estocin detached from Lebanon operations and rendezvoused with the guided missile cruiser Biddle (CG-34). The ships steamed together across the Aegean Sea, through the Dardanelles and the Strait of Bosporous, entering the Black Sea on 1 August. They visited Eregli, Turkey (2–3 August) and operated in the Black Sea until the 5th, when they put into Istanbul, Turkey, for a four-day port call. Departing on 9 August, the warships returned to the eastern Mediterranean to continue operations off Beirut. On 22 August, Estocin put in to Naples and spent the rest of the month in upkeep.
Estocin remained in port at Naples through 5 September 1982 for workups and briefings for her next assignment. During the month of September, the frigate operated as part of NATO’s Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean (NavOCForMed), a multi-national task group activated periodically to keep the peace and to protect the free use of the Mediterranean Sea during times of conflict that do not call for a full mobilization. During her month with NavOCForMed, Estocin conducted training exercises with Greece’s Themistocles (D.210), Savastepe (D.348) of Turkey, Naiad (F.39) of the U.K., and Alpino (FS.80) from Italy. While operating on 7 September, Estocin rescued the three crewmembers of her LAMPS SH-2A Seasprite who had ditched two miles from the frigate after a tail rotor casualty during state five seas and 25 knot sustained winds. When not exercising with her NavOCForMed partners, Estocin made port calls at Livorno (10–12 September) and Genoa, Italy (17–20 September), and Palermo on the island of Sicily (25–27 September) and also took part in exercise Display Determination 82 (21–24 September).
During her time in the Mediterranean, Estocin also took part in two operations in the flight identification region off the coast of Libya. On 2 October 1982, the ship stopped at Augusta Bay, Sicily, and then got underway for the second phase of Display Determination 82. She returned to the eastern Mediterranean on 10 October, earning the Navy Expeditionary Medal for her month of service there. She then steamed to Gaeta, Italy, to complete a tender availability alongside Puget Sound (AD-38) from 14–28 November. The frigate visited Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia (1–3 December) before rendezvousing with the Independence (CV-62) Battle Group on 6 December. Following turnover, Estocin and the units of Task Group (TG) 60.2 began the westward journey home, stopping overnight at Rota, Spain, before commencing the Atlantic transit to the United States. On 20 December, Estocin detached from the task group and proceeded to Mayport in company with destroyer Jonas Ingram (DD-938). Arriving on 22 December, the warships returned home in time for their respective crews to celebrate the holiday season with their loved ones.
Following post-deployment leave and upkeep, Estocin began the New Year with a visit from Lt. Col. Bandar Bin Sultan, Royal Saudi Defense and Armed Forces Attaché, who toured the ship to learn about Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates on 15 January 1983. She resumed underway operations on 31 January, providing submarine services in the Jacksonville and Charleston operations areas for submarines Sand Lance (SSN-660) and Thomas Jefferson (SSN-618) through 3 February. The ship next supported helo deck landing qualifications and in-flight refueling (9–10 February) and later in the month sailed to the AUTEC range to conduct ship antisubmarine warfare readiness and evaluation measurement (SHAREM) 49. On 17 March, Estocin stood out from Mayport, en route to port visits at Key West, Fla. (19–23 March) and Freeport (25–27 March). She then completed type training in the Jacksonville area (28–30 March) and upon returning to port immediately commenced a four-week intermediate maintenance availability with Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity (SIMA) Mayport. Estocin returned to sea from 25–29 April, supporting the aircraft carrier Saratoga (CV-60) and submarine Batfish (SSN-681). She ended the month with another foreign guest, Gen. Intendente Rogelio Peña Gonzáles, Director of Supplies and Transportation for the Spanish Navy, who visited the ship on 29 April to learn about the integrated logistics system for the Oliver Hazard Perry-class ships.
Estocin departed Mayport on 5 May 1983 for two months of special operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean. On 9 May, the ship transited the Panama Canal and arrived at Naval Station Rodman, Panama, to conduct turnover with frigate Blakely (FF-1072). Arriving on station on 13 May, the frigate relieved Julius A. Furer (FFG-6) and operated for a week before Gallery (FFG-26) assumed duties on 26 May. Estocin was in port at Rodman (27 May–5 June) before resuming operations once again. After turnover with Gallery on 22 June, Estocin made a detour to the south to cross the equator on the 24th and then returned to Rodman, arriving on 26 June. Making the return transit of the Panama Canal on 30 June, Estocin proceeded to Puerto Castillo, Honduras, stopping there briefly on 2 July to deliver some cargo from Rodman. On 6 July, the ship put in to Naval Weapons Station, Charleston, S.C., to offload ammunition. There she also embarked some male relatives of the crew for a father-son guest cruise. She arrived back at Mayport on 8 July.
On 19 July 1983, Estocin began her first selected restricted availability (SRA) period, working with Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair Jacksonville and Jacksonville Shipyards Inc. to update and repair many of the ship’s systems. The frigate conducted sea trials on 10 November and officially completed the SRA on the 19th, although her combat systems sea trials took place three days later, on the 22nd. On 26 November, the ship got underway to provide plane guard and electronic warfare support services for Saratoga, operating locally as well as in the Charleston area and at the AUTEC range. She returned to Mayport on 5 December and entered the year-end holiday standdown.
After enjoying Christmas at home, Estocin sailed on 27 December 1983, bound once again for the eastern Pacific to conduct special operations. Transiting the Panama Canal on 31 December, the frigate rang in the New Year at Rodman. Getting underway on 3 January 1984, Estocin arrived on station on the 6th and conducted operations through 8 February, with one break at Rodman (20–22 January). Arriving back at Rodman on 11 February, Estocin held turnover with Antrim (FFG-20) and departed that evening, transiting the Panama Canal overnight. At Tela, Honduras, from 14–17 February, Estocin crewmembers completed renovations and repairs at three local orphanages and donated clothing and toys for the children on behalf of Project Handclasp.
Following liberty at Cozumel (20–22 February 1984), Estocin steamed to Key West to conduct her training readiness evaluation (TRE) (24–28 February) and then proceeded to New Orleans, La., to take part in the city’s Mardi Gras festivities (2–7 March). The frigate was open for public tours (4–6 March), and members of the ship’s marching unit took part in the Krewe of Iris and Krewe of Rex parades (3 and 6 March). Estocin returned to Mayport on 9 March and spent the rest of the month in port.
Estocin put to sea again on 2 April 1984, en route to Guantánamo Bay. Arriving on the 4th, the ship conducted three weeks of interim refresher training. After a break for a port visit at Port Antonio, Jamaica, on 14–15 April, Estocin returned to Guantánamo Bay and completed her OPPE recertification and final battle problem, bringing her interim refresher training to a close. Departing on the evening of 23 April, Estocin held turnover with Flatley (FFG-21) on the 25th and conducted Alert Hoover surveillance operations, tracking a group of Soviet warships in the Caribbean through 2 May. After turning over with Edward McDonnell the next day, the frigate arrived home at Mayport on 4 May and held an intermediate availability for the rest of the month.
During the availability and into the month of June 1984, Estocin prepared for her first Board of Inspection and Survey (InSurv) inspection to assess her material condition and operational readiness. Following the evaluation (11–14 June) during which Estocin was found to be in “excellent material condition,” the ship held another intermediate availability (18–29 June) to address a few maintenance issues raised in the inspection. On the 29th, the warship stood down the channel for sea trials, which also served as a dependents’ cruise for crew family members.
As she prepared to deploy later in the year, Estocin maintained a busy schedule through the summer of 1984. From 17–29 July, the frigate was underway for CompTuEx 3-84. On 10 August, the ship welcomed to her decks RMCM William H. Plackett, Fleet Master Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. One week later, Rear Adm. David F. Chandler, Deputy Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, called on the ship. From 21 August–7 September, Estocin then participated in ReadEx 2-84 off Puerto Rico, serving as “mothership” for the hydrofoils Gemini (PHM-6), Pegasus (PHM-1), and Aquila (PHM-4). Later in the month as the frigate made final preparations to deploy, she put to sea (27–29 September) to ride out tropical storm Isidore.
On 16 October 1984, the crew bid farewell to family and friends and Estocin got underway for the Indian Ocean. Passing through the Strait of Gibraltar on the 27th, the frigate entered the Mediterranean and proceeded to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, arriving on the 28th in company with Independence, Josephus Daniels (CG-27), John King (DDG-3), Hayler (DD-997), and McCandless (FF-1084). Departing on 1 November, Estocin steamed across the Mediterranean and completed Operation Seawind off the northern coast of Egypt with Egyptian naval and air forces (5–7 November). On 8 November, the ship transited the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Suez, entering the Red Sea, where on 11 November she conducted underway turnover with Stark (FFG-31) prior to transiting the Bab-el-Mandab [Gate of Tears] and continuing on through the Gulf of Aden. From 15–28 November, the frigate operated in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. She called at Sitrah, Bahrain, to replenish and refuel (18–19 November) and fueled at Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, on the 24th.
Estocin held turnover with George Philip (FFG-12) on 28 November 1984 and resumed duties with Battle Group Golf in the Northern Arabian Sea. From 13–15 December, the frigate assisted the surveying ship USNS Harkness (T-AGS-32) which was having difficulties with her embarked SH-2 helicopter off the Somali coast. On 22 December, Estocin pointed her prow towards Phuket, Thailand. While en route on Christmas Eve, SK3 Frank D. Kelley, USNR, spoke by telephone with President Ronald W. Reagan, exchanging Christmas greetings with the Commander in Chief on behalf of all of the Navy’s sailors. The conversation raised the morale of the crew, sad to be away from home during the holiday season. Anchoring at Patong Bay, Thailand, on 28 December, Estocin enjoyed a brief respite at Phuket for the New Year’s holiday.
Another distinguished guest called on Estocin when Hon. Stephen Solarz, Representative from the state of New York, visited the ship on New Year’s Day 1985. On 4 January, Estocin departed Phuket and sailed for the Northern Arabian Sea with the battle group. From the 12th to the 17th, the ship assumed the southern picket station in the North Arabian Sea and then took part in a two day exercise with TG 70.3. From 20–23 January, the frigate held an intermediate maintenance availability alongside the repair ship Vulcan (AR-5), anchored at Masirah, Oman, and then proceeded to the Persian Gulf. From 25 January–1 March, Estocin patrolled in the central Gulf, stopping at Bahrain for upkeep (29 January–3 February) and calling there again at month’s end (24–27 February).
Estocin made her final transit of the Strait of Hormuz on the morning of 2 March 1985 and began the long journey back to the United States. On 5 March, she held turnover with Antrim and proceeded to Djibouti, pausing there (8–10 March) before resuming her voyage on the 11th. In company with John Hancock (DD-981), Estocin transited the Red Sea, rendezvousing with McInerney (FFG-8) and Hayler en route. The convoy anchored at Port Suez, Egypt, on the 15th and made the northbound transit of the Suez Canal the following day. After reentering the Mediterranean, the ships visited Malaga, Spain (22–24 March). Steaming through the Strait of Gibraltar on the 25th, Estocin put in at Rota to load supplies and then on the 27th began her Atlantic crossing with John Hancock, Hayler, and McInerney. Stopping at Ponta Delgada in the Azores for fuel and weather avoidance from 29–30 March, Estocin resumed her transit on 1 April and arrived home to Mayport on the 6th.
Following a month-long post-deployment leave and upkeep period, Estocin held SRA with a concurrent intermediate maintenance availability with SIMA Mayport beginning on 13 May 1985. During the transit home from deployment, Estocin had developed some cracks in her superstructure, a known issue with Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. During this availability period, the ship had her superstructure reinforced at stress points to address the issue.
After loading ammunition, Estocin departed Mayport on 8 July 1985. The ship called at Wilmington, N.C. (11–13 July) and then sailed to rendezvous with the aircraft carrier America (CV-66) to conduct operations, including lifeguard duty, antisubmarine warfare, gunnery, helicopter deck landing qualifications, and over-the-horizon targeting through the 22nd. After returning to Mayport on the 23rd, the frigate conducted her training readiness evaluation (30–31 July) and then got underway on 8 August, operating with the aircraft carrier Forrestal (CV-59) through the 18th. Departing once again on the afternoon of 23 August, Estocin steamed to Guantánamo Bay for a month of interim refresher training. She sailed for the AUTEC range on the evening of 21 September to conduct an advanced ASW exercise, but this was curtailed by the approach of Hurricane Gloria. Departing the range on the evening of the 24th, the ship put in to Key West to avoid the storm. During her stay there, the increasingly seasoned warship took part in MobEx 1-85 on 27–28 September with Commander Hydrofoil Squadron 2 embarked, exercising with the U.S. Coast Guard, hydrofoil, and naval reserve forces. She returned to Mayport on 30 September.
Estocin continued a busy underway schedule in the fall of 1985, sailing for Newport, R.I., on the afternoon of 4 October. During her stay from 6–11 October, the frigate served as school ship for prospective commanding officers, executive officers, and department heads. Before departing on the 11th, the ship hosted a ceremony put on by the Newport Navy League in honor of the U.S. Navy’s 210th birthday. That afternoon, the ship headed for Key West. Unfortunately, when she arrived on the 14th, Estocin ran aground and remained in port for the rest of the month for repairs, including the replacement of a propeller blade by Navy divers called in from Little Creek, Va. Getting underway again on 1 November, Estocin took part in Carib Watch 1-85, conducting surveillance of two Soviet warships in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea through 9 November and returning to Mayport the next day. From 16–17 November, she served as visit ship for Naval Station Mayport, and on 20 November, Rear Adm. Thomas R. M. Emery, Commander Fleet Training Command Atlantic, visited the ship. Spending the entire month of December in port, Estocin prepared for her upcoming yard period.
Arriving at Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., on 6 January 1986, Estocin commenced selected restrictive availability, entering dry dock three days later. Work accomplished during the availability included fin stabilizer installation, major gas turbine repairs, overhaul of the controllable pitch propeller system and the diesel generator, deck resurfacing, and repainting of the hull and all interior spaces. On a very sad day for everyone involved with the overhaul, on 10 February, OS2 Troy Blankinship was found dead in his apartment, while back at the yard that same day, a shipyard worker died and two more were injured when the ship’s rudder stock broke loose during removal. After the ship exited the dry dock on 8 April, work continued on board through 5 May. The frigate conducted sea trials on 8 May and returned to Mayport later that day. Sailing again the next morning, Estocin conducted underway training and held a memorial service at sea for ship’s namesake Capt. Michael Estocin on the 11th. Reaching Charleston on the 13th, the frigate loaded ammunition and arrived back at Mayport on 15 May.
During the SRA, workers also installed equipment for the Mk. 92 Mod. 2 Coherent Receiver-Transmitter Fire Control System (CORT) Improvement Project (CNO-107-2), a CNO Priority-1 project for which Estocin would serve as test platform for the rest of 1986. For the next two months, the ship conducted pierside testing of the new system. From mid-July through mid-August, Estocin conducted four underway periods, each of several days’ duration (14–18 July, 21–25 July, 31 July–8 August, and 11–15 August) in the Jacksonville operations area with numerous military and civilian technicians embarked for the developmental test phase of the project. On 28 August, the frigate set course for Puerto Rico to continue CORT testing at the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Test Facility. Arriving at Roosevelt Roads on 1 September, Estocin conducted live missile firings and gunnery exercises between 8–16 September at targets simulating Soviet missiles. She returned to Mayport on 21 September but got underway again on the 29th, returning to Puerto Rico to fire eight more missiles during operational testing of the CORT system (9–11 October). After spending the night at Roosevelt Roads, Estocin steamed for Mayport on 12 October, arriving home on the 16th. In addition to the 15 missile shots, the ship fired almost 1,000 rounds of 76-millimeter ammunition at a variety of surface and air targets during the course of the CORT testing.
While she was away on her Puerto Rico trip, on 1 October 1986, Estocin officially joined the Naval Reserve Force (NRF). The ship’s complement would include approximately 30–40% selected reservists, who reported for training duty one weekend per month and two full weeks per year. While the frigate would continue to maintain her operational readiness, Estocin would deploy as needed on a contingency basis. With the transfer to NRF, Estocin came under the administrative control of Naval Surface Warfare Group (NavSurfGru ) 4 and was reassigned to Philadelphia, Pa.
On 20 October 1986, the frigate bade farewell to Mayport and conducted several days of tracking and gunnery exercises while en route to Philadelphia. Arriving on the 24th, Estocin’s crew had two weeks to adjust to their new home before getting underway again on 6 November. Touching briefly the next day at Newport, R.I., headquarters of her new squadron, Estocin continued on to Boston, Mass., where she moored 50 feet astern of the venerable wooden frigate Constitution. During her visit over the Veterans Day holiday (8–12 November), approximately 600 visitors toured her decks. Estocin returned to Newport on the 13th, departing the next morning to conduct her first naval reserve training underway weekend cruise. She put in to New York City on the 16th to debark her reserve crew and then returned to sea for several days of exercises before stopping at NWS Earle to offload ammunition.
Estocin returned to New York City on 22 November 1986 and embarked 10 undergraduate national security affairs majors from the University of Pennsylvania, an occasion that prompted the frigate’s historian to observe: “this was the first chance any of them ever had to see what ‘deterrence’ really meant in terms of the men and equipment required to carry out national security policy.” The students disembarked on 24 November when Estocin arrived at Pennsylvania Shipbuilding in Chester, Pa. She spent the rest of the year there in an intermediate availability for removal of the CORT system and the reinstallation of her original Mk. 92 system. Concluding her yard period on 23 February 1987, Estocin returned to Naval Base Philadelphia to resume regular operations.
Departing Philadelphia on 9 March 1987, Estocin began a busy two-month period away from home port. Stopping first at Naval Weapons Station Charleston to load ammunition (11–13 March), she then steamed to Mayport, holding a change of command ceremony prior to her arrival on 15 March. The ship conducted CSSQT from 17 March–24 April and set out for Roosevelt Roads on the 26th. After arriving in Puerto Rico on the 29th, Estocin spent several days conducting gunnery exercises at the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility, punctuated by a port visit at St. Croix (10–12 April). Back at Roosevelt Roads on the 17th, the frigate’s complement of reservists embarked the ship for their annual two weeks of active duty training, and the ship soon commenced preparations for her upcoming InSurv inspection. Estocin sailed for Newport on 25 April, arriving on the 28th. The reservists finished their active duty training and debarked on 1 May. Estocin conducted InSurv from 4–8 May, and the reservists reembarked for their monthly training weekend, completed during the transit back to Philadelphia. Arriving home on 10 May, the ship conducted an intermediate availability for the rest of the month.
On 15 June 1987, Estocin returned to sea for ASW exercises. She loaded weapons at NWS Earle (18–19 June) and then carried out helicopter deck landing qualifications. She next sailed for the Virginia capes area from 23–25 June for Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID), with five naval cadets embarked for a month of summer training. After returning to Philadelphia on the 26th, Estocin remained in port through mid-July for repairs to the main reduction gear and replacement of a power turbine. On 8 July, 82 World War II-era Navy veterans and their wives, in town for a reunion, toured the ship.
Steaming from Philadelphia on 17 July 1987, Estocin embarked upon her naval reserve training weekend in the Narragansett Bay operating area. Debarking the reservists at NWS Earle on the 19th, the ship conducted basic engineering casualty control exercises off Atlantic City, N.J., before returning home on the 23rd. Substituting for another ship at the last minute, Estocin put to sea again (27–29 July) with a detachment from HSL-94 embarked to conduct a CNO Priority-One tactical evaluation exercise in the Virginia capes area. During her stay at Penn’s Landing in downtown Philadelphia (7–9 August), the frigate hosted a beauty pageant for the Philadelphia Yacht Club Association and provided tours for more than 4,000 visitors. On the 30th, the ship sailed for Newport, where upon her arrival the next day, she embarked students for the senior officer ship material readiness course and got underway for three days of training. She returned to Philadelphia on 4 September but went back to Newport on the 11th to prepare for her upcoming OPPE exam. On 17 September, the ship paused at 1600 to participate in Bells Across America, a nationwide synchronized ringing of bells to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. On 24–25 September, Estocin successfully passed OPPE with a grade of “above average” and departed for Philadelphia the next day.
On 17 October 1987, Estocin departed Philadelphia, sailing north once again. After stopping overnight at Newport on the 18th, she continued on to Halifax. After a pleasant visit in Nova Scotia (21–23 October), the frigate returned to Newport and conducted ASW operations in the Narragansett Bay operational area (26–29 October). On 9 November, the ship arrived at Port Everglades for a port call (9–11 November) and then got underway for ASW training on the AUTEC range with a group of prospective commanding officers embarked. Refueling briefly at Port Everglades on the 17th, the ship proceeded to NWS Earle, arriving on 20 November to embark her reservists as well as a detachment from HSL-94 for local operations. On the 21st, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Chase Untermeyer visited the ship to observe operations. Estocin returned to Philadelphia on 22 November, then operated locally in December and entered the year-end holiday leave and upkeep period on the 17th.
In the first two months of 1988, Estocin made two trips to Newport to serve as school ship, first from 11–13 January and again from 4–14 February. On 29 February, the frigate began her third selective restricted availability. Workers upgraded the ship’s communications, electronic, and engineering equipment and installed the LINK 11 Naval Tactical Data System among other improvements.
After concluding her overhaul on 31 May 1988, Estocin sailed to NWS Earle to reload her weapons and commenced a busy summer schedule of training, beginning with naval reserve training weekend on 17–18 June. On the 20th, the ship charted a course for the Virginia capes area to take part in CORTRAMID. After conducting two days of deck landing qualifications, the frigate moored at Norfolk on 23 June. She continued with CORTRAMID from 27–30 June and returned to Philadelphia on 1 July, mooring at Penn’s Landing. During the holiday weekend, the ship was open for public tours, and on the evening of 4 July, she played host to employees of the city of Philadelphia for Independence Day festivities and fireworks. Following another three days underway for CORTRAMID, on 14 July, Estocin got underway for the reserve crew’s annual two weeks of active duty. The ship called at Halifax (16–18 July) and Newport (21–22 July) before returning to Philadelphia on the 24th. At the end of the month, Estocin returned to the Virginia capes area for a Vandal missile exercise. On 7 August, the ship conducted an ASW exercise locally and then called at Annapolis, Md. (10–11 August). With dependents embarked, the frigate returned to Philadelphia by way of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
For the next several months, Estocin operated locally conducting naval reserve training or remained in port for training and upkeep. In September 1988, she made a quick trip to Newport (23–27 September), and she spent several days at Annapolis for “Fleet’s In Week” (5–10 October). Back in Philadelphia, the frigate served as visit ship at Penn’s Landing (15–17 October). Estocin held an intermediate maintenance availability in November and returned to Newport for three-day stays in early December and late January 1989.
On 28 February 1989, Estocin turned her bow toward Roosevelt Roads (4–5 March). From 6–10 March, the ship conducted ASW exercises on the AUTEC range and held air tracking and gunnery exercises at the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility. The crew enjoyed some down time at St. Croix (11–13 March) before sailing for the Atlantic City operating area for more underway training. Returning to Philadelphia on 21 March, the ship immediately entered an intermediate maintenance availability with SIMA Philadelphia to change out her 76-millimeter gun. The availability continued through 30 April.
Estocin spent most of the first three weeks of May 1989 engaged in underway training in the Virginia capes or Atlantic City areas, including reservist active duty training and exercise Solid Shield with HSL-94 embarked (8–19 May). On 20–21 May, the frigate returned to Philadelphia and moored at Penn’s Landing. The ship was underway for much of the early summer, including midshipman summer and reservist active duty training. She spent the Independence Day holiday at New York City (1–4 July) and continued with underway training with additional port calls at Boston (14–16 July) and Halifax (21–23 July). She returned to Philadelphia on 29 July to begin an intermediate availability soon thereafter.
From 18–20 August 1989, Estocin was underway for naval reserve training weekend. She then called at NWS Earle to embark reservists for their active duty training. She sailed to Newport on 25 August and then was underway through 1 September for special operations. She returned to Newport on 2 September to debark the reservists and bring a new group on board before departing for ten more days of special operations. On 14–15 September, Estocin once again called at NWS Earle to offload weapons, debark her active duty reservists, and embark more reservists for weekend training.
After four days of operations in the Atlantic City area, Estocin arrived at Norfolk on 19 September 1989 to begin SRA. The frigate entered the floating dry dock Old Dominion at Metro Machine Shipyard on 1 October and remained there until 10 January 1990, with the SRA continuing pierside through the first half of the year. Upon completion of sea trials (20–25 June), Estocin moored at Naval Station Norfolk before returning to Philadelphia on 30 June. Shortly after her return home, however, paint began peeling off of Estocin’s hull, necessitating a return trip to Metro Machine for repainting. Estocin reached Norfolk on 16 July and reentered Old Dominion on 6 August. With repainting completed, the ship exited dry dock on 20 August and moored at Naval Station Norfolk.
Getting underway on 22 August 1990, Estocin sailed to NWS Earle for ammunition onload (22–24 August). Arriving at Newport on 24 August, the ship completed several assessments including the training readiness evaluation in preparation for her upcoming refresher training. On 6 September, the ship steamed south, calling at Mayport (7–9 September) and then Roosevelt Roads (11–13 September). Underway again, the ship completed combat systems and type trainings off Puerto Rico and on the AUTEC range in the Bahamas. Estocin stopped at Mayport (22 September) for fuel and provisions while continuing with exercises.
Returning to Philadelphia on 27 September 1990, the frigate’s stay at home was brief as she was underway again on the 29th, arriving at Newport the next day for two weeks of maintenance and upkeep. Departing on 13 October, Estocin stopped at Mayport (18–20 October) on her way to Guantánamo Bay for refresher training. During her time at Cuba, the ship responded to two emergencies. First on 22 October 1990, a severe thunderstorm caused flooding in the Guantánamo Bay area. Estocin’s crew helped drain the floodwaters and clean up the damage at the elementary school on the base and on board a barge at the pier. Later while in the midst of a major fire drill during an underway period, the frigate completed emergency in-flight refueling for another ship’s helicopter.
After her first three weeks of refresher training, Estocin paused on 10 November 1990 to sail to Jamaica. After enjoying some liberty time at Ocho Rios (11–13 November), the frigate returned to Guantánamo Bay to complete the last week of refresher training before returning to Philadelphia on 20 November. The ship spent Thanksgiving at home but soon put to sea again, steaming for Newport on 26 November. There she completed a command inspection and was scheduled to conduct OPPE, but that examination was put off until January. Returning to Philadelphia on 11 December, Estocin finished the year with a change of command ceremony on the 15th and two days later began the year-end leave and upkeep period, during which the crew prepared for OPPE.
On 28 January 1991, Estocin set off for Newport via NWS Earle. She remained at Newport for nearly a month through the successful completion of OPPE (18–22 February). Returning to Newport again on 9 March, the frigate completed a combat systems assessment until 22 March. Through the rest of the spring, Estocin operated locally out of Philadelphia, including two naval reserve training weekends and a dependents’ cruise on 1 June.
Estocin departed Philadelphia on 26 June 1991, embarking upon a two-month tour of the Great Lakes region to promote the Navy in the Midwest and to support recruitment efforts. The voyage brought her to Montreal, Que., Canada (1–2 July and 19–20 August); Oswego, N.Y. (3–7 July); St. Ignace, Mich. (10–11 July); Milwaukee, Wisc. (12–15 July); Thunder Bay, Ont., Canada (18–24 July); Duluth, Minn. (25–30 July); Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. (31 July–2 August); Cleveland, Oh. (5–15 August); Erie, Pa. (16–18 August); and Quebec City, Que., Canada (21–25 August). She returned to Philadelphia on 30 August.
Estocin was next underway to Baltimore on 8 September 1991 for the Fort McHenry Defenders Day celebration during which the ship assumed the role of a British frigate attacking the fortifications. From 16–19 September, she sailed to take part in a research, development, testing, and evaluation project for the AN/SQQ-89 sonar system. From 23–26 September, Estocin served as gas turbine engineering officer of the watch school ship at Newport. On 5 October, the ship got underway for naval reserve training weekend. After stopping at Norfolk (7–11 October) for a training availability, the frigate steamed north to Halifax for a port visit (13–15 October). She then took part in Canadian Fleet operations with U.S. and Canadian Maritime Command warships south of Nova Scotia through the 26th. Returning to Philadelphia on 28 October, Estocin held an intermediate maintenance availability (3–18 November 1991) and operated locally for the rest of the year.
Estocin began 1992 with a trip to Newport, departing on 6 January. She completed her InSurv inspection (13–17 January) and returned to Philadelphia. From 29 January–23 March, the ship conducted an extended intermediate availability. She loaded ammunition at NWS Earle (6–7 April) and then remained at Philadelphia in upkeep through 8 May. Estocin sailed upriver to Penn’s Landing on the 15th with dependents embarked to take part in Armed Forces Weekend festivities. Departing on 26 May, Estocin sailed north, stopping at Newport (28–29 May) on her way to participate once again in Canadian Fleet operations off Nova Scotia from 1–11 June. Before returning home, the frigate called at Halifax (12–15 June). On 29 June, the ship sailed for Norfolk to take part in CORTRAMID through 2 July. After a week of upkeep in Philadelphia, Estocin returned to Norfolk on 12 July for various training evolutions during a two-week availability to complete the installation of the Joint Operational Tactical System I. Heading back to Philadelphia on 25 July, Estocin continued with training and evaluations through 10 August.
Leaving Philadelphia for the last time on 12 August 1992, Estocin loaded weapons at NWS Earle and sailed to Newport, her new home port, where she completed upkeep for the rest of the month. On 31 August, the frigate headed for the Caribbean with a detachment from HSL-94 embarked to conduct drug interdiction operations. She made one call at Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (25–27 September) and returned to Newport on 13 October. She steamed to the Caribbean again in early November to take part in submarine prospective commanding officer training on the AUTEC range (6–8 November). Later in the month, the ship participated in a squadron missile exercise. After returning to Newport on 23 November, Estocin held an intermediate availability to prepare for her upcoming OPPE and began year-end leave and upkeep on 14 December. For her efforts during 1992, Estocin earned the Navy Battle “E” award.
Estocin continued with OPPE preparations in early 1993, operating locally in the Narragansett Bay operations area. In February 1993, NavSurfGru 4 was reorganized and designated DesRon 6. Estocin remained with the squadron and became the flagship. She completed OPPE (23–25 February) and stayed in port for the next month. On 26 March, the frigate departed for her monthly reserve training, docking at Norfolk on the 29th. Getting underway again on 1 April, she took part in several days of missile and ASW exercises with other ships from DesRon 6. Stopping at Norfolk again (5–7 April) before arriving back at Newport on 9 April, Estocin remained in port into late May except for her naval reserve training weekends.
On 24 May 1993, Estocin sailed for the Caribbean to conduct drug interdiction operations. After touching at Norfolk on 25 May, the frigate steamed for Roosevelt Roads, docking there on 30–31 May. Commencing interdiction operations on 1 June, she continued with this mission for the next month, pausing for port visits at Grand Cayman (10–13 June) and Antigua (3–7 July). Returning home via Norfolk (11 July), Estocin arrived at Newport on 13 July. The ship held naval reserve training weekend (24–25 July) followed immediately by ammunition offload at Earle. She returned to Newport and on 2 August commenced a three-month SRA period. The ship held sea trials on 9–10 November and concluded the repair period on the 18th. Save for ordinance onload at Earle on 1 December, the frigate remained at Newport through mid-December.
Sailing for the Caribbean on 13 December 1993, Estocin relieved Fahrion (FFG-22) off the coast of Haiti on the 17th, operating as part of Operation Support Democracy to enforce sanctions and a naval blockade imposed by the United Nations Security Council two years after a military coup overthrew the elected government of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The frigate spent four weeks tracking air and surface contacts and boarding and searching ships suspected of breaking the embargo. After John Rodgers assumed her station, Estocin put in to Mayport on 18 January 1994 and began a maintenance availability with SIMA Mayport on the 24th, during which the combat systems operational system implementation took place. While still at Mayport, Estocin’s home port officially changed from Newport to Norfolk on 31 January.
During the last week of her maintenance availability (7–11 February), Estocin also completed the Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART) phase II. The ship had reserve training weekend on 12–13 February and then on 14 February 1994, she sailed for the waters of Puerto Rico where from 17–20 February, the frigate took part in a missile exercise with five other ships from DesRon 6. Estocin refueled at Roosevelt Roads on the 20th and then proceeded to Bermuda for a liberty call (24–26 February). She then continued north to Newport, arriving on 28 February and conducted an intermediate maintenance availability and completed trainings and assessments through 18 March.
From 23–27 March 1994, Estocin called at Portsmouth, N.H., to take part in a celebration commemorating the commissioning of the first U.S. frigates. After returning to Newport, the ship focused on OPPE preparations. The frigate successfully completed the examination from 19–21 April and remained in port at Newport. Estocin hosted the DesRon 6 change of command ceremony on the 29th, and through the first two weeks of May, crewmembers assisted their families with preparations for their upcoming move to Virginia.
Estocin departed Newport on 16 May 1994 and began her second trip to the Great Lakes, once again promoting the U.S. Navy in the Midwest. More than 52,000 guests visited the frigate during the cruise, including Adm. Henry H. Mauz Jr., Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Rear Adm. Frank Harness, Commander, Naval Surface Reserve Force; Rear Adm. Marsha J. Evans, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command; radio personality Paul Harvey; and Miss America 1994 Kimberly Aiken. The frigate also had the honor of hosting 13 family members of ship namesake Michael J. Estocin for lunch on 19 July during her stop at Erie (16–19 July). Other ports of call included Montreal (21–22 May and 6–8 August); Cleveland (25–28 May); Chicago, Ill. (31 May–6 June and 28 June–5 July); Muskegon, Mich. (7–12 June and 23–27 June); Sault Ste. Marie (14–16 June); Duluth (17–21 June); Milwaukee (6–13 July); Buffalo, N.Y. (20–24 July); Oswego (26–31 July); and Ogdensburg, N.Y. (1–4 August). The ship had to foreshorten a liberty call at Halifax on 13 August due to approaching heavy weather that would interfere with the last leg of her voyage, which concluded safely at Newport on the 15th.
On 21 August 1994, Estocin arrived at Norfolk, touching there for the first time since it officially became her new home port at the end of January. The crew spent the next several weeks getting their families settled in Virginia and completing inspections. In the early fall, the ship’s focus switched to combat systems training, with a combat systems readiness review (11–14 October). Following her reserve training weekend, the frigate departed on 17 October for the Puerto Rico operating area to participate in the DesRon 6 MarWarEx ASW exercise (19–21 October). Before returning to Norfolk at the end of the month, the ship called at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. (23–26 October), supporting commemorations for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
In early November 1994, Estocin completed more assessments. During an intermediate maintenance availability (9–28 November), Estocin augmented her communications equipment with the installation of the INMARSAT system. Following the availability, the frigate departed for CompTuEx 95-1, acting as opposing forces for the Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Battle Group in the Puerto Rico operating area (3–5 December). The crew enjoyed some liberty at Mayport (8–10 December) before heading home. After the ship’s final naval reserve training weekend of the year, she entered the year-end holiday leave period on 19 December.
Estocin recommenced operations on 9 January 1995, departing Norfolk en route to Roosevelt Roads. During her visit (12–14 January), the ship hosted the change of command ceremony for Commander, South Atlantic Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. She then spent a week visiting Miami, Fla. (18–24 January) before taking part in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 95-2, serving as a member of the opposing forces during antiair, antisurface, and antisubmarine warfare operations (27 January–3 February). After returning to Norfolk, the ship spent most of February in an intermediate availability for modifications to the AN/SQS-56 sonar system. From 8–10 March, the frigate offloaded ammunition at NWS Yorktown (Va.) prior to her upcoming yard period.
On the morning of 27 March 1995, Estocin made a dead stick (without power) transit to Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk to begin a three-month docking selected restricted availability. Work completed included replacing the ship’s propeller and stripping and repainting the hull and superstructure. During the availability, on 15 April, the frigate welcomed back ship’s sponsor Quay Marie Estocin for lunch with the wardroom and a tour of the shipyard. On 17 June, the frigate sent three sailors to Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania for the dedication of a memorial to the late Capt. Estocin, Class of 1954. At the ceremony attended by both family members and Estocin’s classmates, Lt. Jeffrey P. Cole, Estocin’s operations officer, spoke of the frigate’s role in the Navy and her state of operational readiness.
Following sea trials on 20–21 June 1995, Estocin completed her yard period and returned to NS Norfolk for a busy slate of summer activities. On 6 July, six midshipmen joined the frigate for their summer training period through 18 August. Likewise on 31 July, four officers from the Venezuelan Navy participating in an exchange program embarked Estocin for a month of training. During naval reserve training weekend on 22 July, the ship supported George Washington’s (CVN-73) dependents’ cruise, and on 12 August, the frigate held her own family day cruise. Joining the ship for the special outing were not only relatives of the crew, but also John Estocin, brother of the ship’s namesake, as well as some of Michael Estocin’s classmates at Slippery Rock. The frigate stood out again on 15 August to sortie for Hurricane Felix, returning to port on the 20th. She went right back to sea the next day to complete a four-day visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) exercise, and then on 25 August, she headed to Newport to serve as surface warfare officer school ship.
Returning to Norfolk on 2 September 1995, Estocin began preparations for her OPPE exam, which was eventually rescheduled for February. At the end of the month, the frigate began the first phase of her tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA). On 3 October, Estocin departed for Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Conn. During her stay over the Columbus Day holiday weekend from 5–10 October, the frigate supported the commissioning ceremony for Columbia (SSN-771) on the 9th and provided tours to more than 1,000 visitors, who were unaccustomed to the presence of a surface combatant at the submarine base. After her arrival at Norfolk on 11 October, Estocin spent most of the rest of the month in upkeep. She then continued with TSTA through mid-November and then was in pre-deployment standdown through 7 December.
Sailing from Norfolk on 12 December 1995, Estocin charted a course to the Caribbean to conduct counter-narcotics operations. The ship transited the Panama Canal on the 17th and stopped at Rodman to refuel and embark a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment before continuing the mission in the eastern Pacific. The frigate took a break at Rodman for the New Year’s holiday. During her time in the Pacific, Estocin crossed the Equator and converted 127 slimy pollywogs into trusty shellbacks. In January 1996, the frigate returned to the Caribbean and visited the island of Curaçao. She completed her counter-drug mission late in the month and proceeded to Roosevelt Roads to conduct a missile exercise before returning to Norfolk.
On 14 February 1996, Estocin arrived at Mayport to prepare for her rescheduled OPPE. She completed the exam (27–29 February) and then held naval reserve training weekend. The frigate remained at Mayport for the rest of the week and then steamed to Puerto Rico, spending three days at Roosevelt Roads (10–13 March) before acting as opposing forces during CompTuEx (13–16 March). Estocin returned to Norfolk on 20 March and served on the opposing force again from 28–31 March during exercise Unified Spirit. She spent the month of April conducting TSTA II and completed the third phase during the first complete week of May. The training period culminated in the completion of the final evaluation problem (FEP) from 14–17 May. After FEP, the ship remained in port for more than a month.
Commencing on 22–23 June 1996 with a naval reserve training weekend, Estocin began another busy summer. On 28 June, she set course for New England and conducted a rescue at sea with the Coast Guard while en route. Estocin transported the four crewmembers saved from the sailing ship Pegasus to Eastport, Maine, where the frigate came to help the town celebrate Independence Day and “Old Home Week” (2–5 July). Estocin returned to Norfolk on 8 July but two days later was sent to sea again to ride out Hurricane Bertha until 14 July. One week later, Estocin successfully passed her InSurv examination (22–26 July).
Departing Norfolk on 13 August 1996, Estocin steamed for northern Europe in company with Mount Whitney (LCC-20), Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), Thorn (DD-988), Nicholas (FFG-47), and oiler USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO-195). En route to the North Sea, the convoy stopped at Halifax (16–19 August) and Reykjavik, Iceland (27–29 August). For ten days in early September, Estocin participated in the NATO exercise Northern Light/Bright Horizon 1996 off Norway, the U.S. men-of-war operating in coordination with warships from the U.K., Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain. Following the evolutions, Estocin called at Belfast, Northern Ireland, the first American warship to do so in more than a quarter century. During her stay (14–18 September), Estocin attracted over 7,000 visitors to her decks for tours and receptions. Turning for home after a successful exercise and port visit, Estocin reached Norfolk on 29 September.
Estocin remained in port until 19 October 1996, when she got underway for naval reserve training weekend. When she returned to Norfolk the following afternoon, Rear Adm. Francis W. Harness, Commander, Naval Surface Reserve Force, met with the crew and toured the ship. After serving as visit ship the weekend of 26–27 October, Estocin unloaded her weapons at NWS Yorktown on 7–8 November and continued with training and evaluations. On 5 December, Estocin commenced a restricted availability that continued through 31 January 1997.
Following her availability, Estocin continued with her training activities in early 1997. On 7 March, the frigate steamed for the Cherry Point operations area to participate in JTFEX 97-2, serving as the flagship for the opposing forces to prepare the John F. Kennedy (CV-67) Battle Group for deployment. Calling at Charleston after the exercise (19–21 March), the ship returned to Norfolk on the 25th for upkeep. She began an intermediate maintenance availability on 14 April, pausing on the 26th to conduct a family day cruise. After the availability concluded on 9 May, Estocin entered a pre-overseas movement period to make final preparations to deploy.
Departing Norfolk on 23 May 1997, Estocin set course for the United Kingdom in company with guided missile cruisers Anzio (CG-68) and Cape St. George (CG-71). In early June, the task group joined forces with British warships to conduct an air defense exercise. The American vessels then called at Portsmouth, U.K. on the 4th, with Estocin departing on the 7th en route to the Baltic Sea via the Straits of Dover and the Danish Straits to attend pre-exercise conferences for Baltic Operations (BaltOps) 97 at Gdansk, Poland (13–15 June). During BaltOps, Estocin exercised with naval ships representing 13 countries from the greater Baltic region to promote understanding, cooperation, and interoperability of forces among the participating nations.
After the BaltOps exercises, Estocin also had the opportunity to make several goodwill visits to cities in the region. Her first stop was Kiel, Germany, for Kiel Week 97 (20–24 June). On 26 June 1997, Estocin arrived at Baltiysk, the home port of the Russian Baltic Fleet. Among those who toured the American ship from 27–29 June was Adm. Vladimir G. Yegorov, the Commander in Chief of Russia’s Baltic Fleet. Estocin crewmembers also took some time to help Russian orphans as part of the Partnership for Peace initiative. The ship next steamed to Aalborg, Denmark, where during her stay from 1–5 July, Estocin took part in the Rebild Festival, the largest celebration outside of the U.S. of the American Independence Day holiday on 4 July.
In July 1997, Estocin’s tour of the Baltic Sea area continued with port calls at Kotka, Finland (7–9 July); Klaipeda, Lithuania (11–13 July); and Copenhagen, Denmark (14–16 July). The veteran frigate then departed the Baltic and sailed up the coast of Norway, conducting training with the Norwegian coast guard vessel Nordkapp in the country’s coastal fjords. After crossing the Arctic Circle and initiating the crew into the Order of the Blue Nose, Estocin called at Hammerfest, Norway (24–28 July). From 1–3 August, Estocin visited her second Russian port of the deployment, Severomorsk. Here the American sailors were welcomed with the traditional Russian bread and salt ceremony, and the Commander in Chief of Russia’s Northern Fleet, Adm. Oleg Yerofeyev, called upon the ship. Estocin concluded her northern European tour with stops at Trondheim, Norway (8–11 August) and Edinburgh, Scotland (13–18 August) before making her way back to the United States. Stopping briefly for fuel at Ponta Delgada (23 August) and Bermuda (29 August), the frigate returned to her home port on 31 August.
After three weeks of post-deployment leave and upkeep, Estocin completed a three-week intermediate maintenance availability with SIMA Norfolk through mid-October 1997. At the same time, the ship prepared to begin a new training cycle with CART I evaluations. She returned to sea on 20 October for several days of training exercises and helicopter deck landing qualifications. On 13 November, she got underway en route to Puerto Rico, refueling at Roosevelt Roads before participating in CompTuEx as a member of the opposing forces. Returning to Norfolk on 26 November, just in time for Thanksgiving the following day, Estocin remained in port for the rest of the year save for her naval reserve training weekend on 6–7 December.
Estocin got underway again on 12 January 1998, heading to the Puerto Rico operating area to serve as opposition force during JTFEX 98-1. She stopped briefly at Roosevelt Roads on the 16th and again on 24–25 January before returning to Norfolk on the 30th. On 7–8 February, the ship welcomed 12 female relatives of crewmembers for a dependents’ cruise, which was unfortunately marred by some heavy weather. Estocin then had a four-week fleet maintenance availability through 13 March to make repairs to the ship’s engineering plant. On 1 May, the frigate hosted her sponsor, Mrs. Marie Estocin, for a luncheon with the ship’s wardroom.
In late spring, the frigate’s training program kicked into high gear, beginning with CART II (4–8 May 1998). The first phase of TSTA began at the end of the month, extending into June, and the second phase commenced on 14 July. During TSTA II while underway in the Virginia capes area on 28 July, Estocin experienced a major casualty in the electrical plant control console that ultimately could not be repaired while at sea. The ship returned to Norfolk on the 30th, a technician replaced the faulty part and repaired the console, and she went back out to sea to continue her certifications. Estocin paused her training activities to hold a family day cruise on 15 August, and then (25–28 August) she put to sea to ride out Hurricane Bonnie. From 15–17 September, Estocin demonstrated her readiness to progress to specialized training for deployment by successfully completing the final evaluation problem.
From 23–25 September 1998, the ship’s officers and several senior enlisted crew members partook in a special training opportunity at the Marine Safety International (MSI) Ship Handling Complex at Naval Station Norfolk. Participants practiced various navigation scenarios on a 360° bridge simulator that accurately reproduced Estocin’s performance characteristics. The frigate’s historian noted, “the students were able to perform maneuvers which they may never get a chance to experience again—with no risk of damaging the ship.”
Following the special training, on 28 September 1998, Estocin steamed for Mayport with HSL-94 embarked for a scheduled three-week independent deployer exercise (InDEx 98-3) in the Puerto Rican operations area to train for her upcoming counter-narcotics deployment. However, Hurricane Bonnie one month earlier had damaged the missile range facilities at which Estocin was to have conducted live-fire exercises. As a result, InDEx was cancelled and the frigate headed back to Norfolk on 3 October. The next day off the coast of South Carolina, she rushed to the assistance of a foundering sailing ship, a replica of the famed British Armed Vessel Bounty that was built for the 1962 motion picture Mutiny on the Bounty. The vessel’s bilge pumps could not keep up with the seawater that was entering the hull between the planking. Estocin relieved Gettysburg (CG-64) on the scene and commenced a seven-hour operation to pump water from the vessel and control the flooding. After stabilizing the situation, Estocin left the ship in the capable hands of a team from the U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat Hammerhead (WPB-87302), which had been assisting. Estocin arrived at Norfolk on 5 October, and Bounty safely reached Charleston, escorted by the Coast Guard. Sadly, 14 years later in October 2012, two of 16 crewmembers died when Bounty sank in the same general area off the North Carolina coast as she tried to navigate through Hurricane Sandy.
Departing on 20 October 1998, Estocin sailed to Puerto Rico to conduct counter-narcotics operations training during her rescheduled independent deployer exercise. The ship returned to Norfolk on 1 November, and for the next three days, Estocin’s officers and specified senior enlisted crewmen once again practiced their conning skills at the MSI ship handling simulator. Continuing with preparations for deployment, the ship underwent a fleet maintenance availability from 23 November–7 December. Following sea trials on 8–9 December, the frigate entered the pre-overseas movement period.
On 5 January 1999, Estocin departed Norfolk en route to the Caribbean. After pausing overnight at Guantánamo Bay, on 10 January the frigate commenced counter-narcotics operations in conjunction with Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) East, patrolling the area between Panama and the Netherlands Antilles. During the deployment, the embarked law enforcement detachment conducted numerous vessel boardings. The ship made several port calls at Colón, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia; Curaçao; Bonaire; and Aruba and spent a week in port at Mayport (3–10 April). On 9 May, the ship put in to Guantánamo Bay and held a change of command ceremony the following day before continuing on to Mayport and finally returning to Norfolk on 15 May.
After four months away from home, Estocin resumed underway operations on 22–24 June 1999, conducting various training exercises including a fueling at sea with George Washington in the Virginia capes operating area. On the 28th, the frigate headed to the Caribbean once again, taking part in InDEx 99-2 as opposing forces in conjunction with Robert G. Bradley and Yorktown (CG-48) against the John F. Kennedy Battle Group. Estocin spent the Independence Day holiday at St. Thomas (3–5 July) and returned to Norfolk on 16 July.
The frigate unloaded her armament at NWS Yorktown from 19–21 July 1999 and then returned to NS Norfolk to commence a two-month maintenance availability. Following repairs, she conducted sea trials (7–8 October). After reloading ammunition at Yorktown on 18–19 October, Estocin operated locally conducting training through late November. Steaming from Norfolk on 29 November, the frigate sailed south to the Jacksonville operating area to take part in InDEx 00-1 / JTFEX 99-3 (1–12 December) as opposing forces to the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Battle Group. En route back to Norfolk, she conducted operations with the French helicopter cruiser Jeanne d’Arc (R.97). Upon her return home on 16 December, the frigate commenced the end-of-year holiday leave and upkeep period.
Estocin put to sea on 18 January 2000 to participate in a Destroyer Squadron 14 group sail. During the multi-ship exercises that took place through 28 January, Estocin worked extensively to test the new Roboski surface remote target system. From 14–18 February, Estocin successfully completed her InSurv inspection. The ship held a post-InSurv availability through 6 March and then on the following two days loaded weapons at NWS Yorktown.
On 13 March 2000, Estocin stood out from Norfolk and set course for the Caribbean. The frigate joined up with Hue City (CG-66) and Bradley (FFG-49) en route to Cartagena for pre-exercise meetings with the Colombian navy (19–29 March) prior to the Caribbean phase of the 41st annual UNITAS deployment. Serving as surface action group commander, Estocin directed the multinational force of ships during an antisurface warfare free-play exercise. She also acted as officer in tactical command for three live fire exercises during which multiple vessels safely shot at the Roboski target drone. The ships paused at Roosevelt Roads (1–3 April), and the Caribbean phase of UNITAS concluded on 10 April.
Following her UNITAS participation, Estocin headed for Brazil to take part in festivities commemorating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of what would become the South American nation. During the transit, the ship crossed the Equator and initiated 140 slimy pollywogs into the mysteries of the Realm of King Neptune, ensuring a crew of trusty shellbacks. At her first Brazilian port of call at Fortaleza (17–19 April 2000), members of the frigate’s crew participated in a community relations project at a local mission. At Rio de Janeiro from 24 April–2 May, Estocin served as the United States’ official representative during an international parade of sail comprised of more than 40 ships as well as 15 aircraft. Estocin sailors also completed a service project at a local school. During her return trip to Norfolk, the frigate conducted a targeting exercise with two ships from the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy. She returned home on 15 May and held leave and upkeep for the rest of the month.
In June 2000, more than 80 midshipmen joined Estocin as part of their summer training during two underway periods (6th–8th, 13th–15th). Then during Norfolk’s Operation Sail 2000, Estocin served as host ship for the tall ship ARC Gloria of Colombia from 15–19 June. Late in the month, the frigate sailed to Baltimore, Md., to take part in a reunion of more than 100 family members and friends of the ship’s namesake on 27–28 June. The event included a reception and a day cruise on the Chesapeake Bay with the reunion participants as well as members of the state legislature of Pennsylvania, Estocin’s home state, which had proclaimed 28 June to be “USS Estocin Day.” Departing Baltimore on 29 June, the ship transited the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and steamed north to Bristol, R.I. There from 1–5 July, Estocin served as the Navy’s visit ship for what was billed as the nation’s oldest continuous Independence Day celebration, begun in 1785. More than 50 Estocin sailors marched in the town’s Fourth of July parade. Sixteen family members joined the ship for a “Tiger Cruise” back to Norfolk. Upon her return home, the frigate held an intermediate maintenance availability for most of the rest of the month.
Estocin continued with special events through mid-August 2000. On the 9th, the ship held a Family and Friends Day cruise, attracting more than 300 friends, relatives, scouting organizations, and Navy recruiting representatives. The next day, the frigate steamed north en route to Winter Harbor, Maine, to take part in the town’s annual Lobster Festival. During her stay (11–14 August), the frigate hosted a luncheon for town officials on the 11th and provided ship tours to more than 600 visitors.
Over the next three months, Estocin focused on trainings and assessments in preparation for another counter-narcotics deployment to the Caribbean at the end of the year. The ship completed an intermediate maintenance availability (27 September–16 October 2000) and then took part in the DesRon 6 group sail for prospective commanding officers training into the first week of November. She was underway again (13–15 November) to participate in a Vandal missile exercise and then entered a month of pre-deployment leave and upkeep. During the pre-overseas movement period in late November, Rear Adm. John B. Foley III, Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic and a former commanding officer of Estocin, visited his old ship to meet with her officers and enlisted leadership and to present “SURFLANT Superstar” awards to EN3 Dustin White and SN Llelwyn Giles, two members of the crew.
On the morning of 15 December 2000, Vice Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Commander, Second Fleet, called upon Estocin to wish the frigate “fair winds and following seas” as she embarked upon a five-month deployment to the southern Caribbean. At Guantánamo Bay on the 18th, the ship held turnover with Boone (FFG-28) and chopped into JIATF East to commence counter-narcotics operations. She put in to Aruba on 30 December for the New Year’s holiday, returning to sea on 2 January 2001. In addition to two brief stops at Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, during this phase of the deployment, Estocin called at Willemstad, Curaçao (18–21 January and 7–10 March); Roosevelt Roads (6–11 February); and Ocho Rios, Jamaica (22–26 February). On 19 February, Estocin rendezvoused with the vessel Ambola IV to assist a woman with a head injury. After transferring the patient to the frigate, Estocin sailed toward Cartagena to transfer her to a Colombian naval vessel for further medical attention.
Estocin put in to Guantánamo Bay on 15 March 2001. The following day, Rear Adm. Kevin P. Green, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, and commander of the upcoming UNITAS 42-01 deployment to South America, called upon the frigate. Departing later that day, Estocin next visited Mayport for a week of upkeep (19–28 March). Sailing in company with destroyer O’Bannon (DD-987), the ship returned to Guantánamo Bay for fuel on the 31st and then proceeded on to Cartagena for briefings (2–4 April) before commencing the Caribbean phase of UNITAS 42-01. Beginning on 4 April, the two American warships exercised for ten days with vessels from the Colombian, Brazilian, and French navies. After participating in the training, Estocin proceeded independently to port calls at Roosevelt Roads (21–23 April); Bridgetown, Barbados (24–28 April); and Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela (1–4 May). After an additional stop at Port Everglades to refuel (10–11 May), Estocin arrived home at Norfolk on the morning of 14 May.
Following post-deployment leave and upkeep, Estocin operated locally in the Virginia capes area through late June and July. On 1 August 2001, she steamed for Puerto Rico to take part in JTFEX, providing services while en route for Theodore Roosevelt. Arriving at Roosevelt Roads on the 8th, Estocin departed independently the next day, heading north to the Cherry Point operations area where beginning on 11 August, the frigate continued with JTFEX 3-01 operations, working with the Bataan (LHD-5) Amphibious Ready Group. She returned to Norfolk on 18 August.
While the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 had an immediate effect on the security posture of installations at Norfolk and brought about many changes in the months to come, Estocin’s routine for the most part proceeded as normal. She remained in port for a week after the attacks, monitoring weather conditions as Hurricane Gabrielle crossed over Florida and then tracked out into the Atlantic. Shipboard sailors kept a watchful eye on the waterfront while Estocin’s rigid-hulled inflatable boat regularly patrolled the harbor on alert for suspicious objects and activities such as swimmers, unauthorized watercraft, photography of Navy ships and facilities, bubbles in the water, fishing on the piers, and unattended bags to protect Naval Station Norfolk from potential harm. The frigate was underway from 18–20 September in the Virginia capes operations area conducting gunnery and ASW exercises, and from 1–3 October, she loaded ammunition at NWS Yorktown.
During the first week of October 2001, several representatives from the Turkish navy visited Estocin, which was slated to be decommissioned and sold to Turkey in April 2002. On 10 October, the frigate departed Norfolk independently to serve picket duty as part of Operation Noble Eagle, sailing south to the New Providence Channel and back. While steaming approximately 45 miles east of Port St. Lucie, Fla., on 12 October, Estocin’s crew marked the one-year anniversary of another terrorist attack when, at 1100, the ship tolled her bell 17 times in memory of the 17 sailors who perished in the bombing of guided missile destroyer Cole (DDG-67) while she lay in port at Aden, Yemen, on 12 October 2000. Estocin returned to Norfolk on 14 October.
Operating locally in the Virginia capes area for the rest of the year and into early 2002, Estocin commenced preparations for decommissioning. Plans changed, however, when the Navy leadership decided to keep the more recently updated Estocin in service and instead decommission her sister ship Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG-13) a year ahead of schedule. By this time, Estocin’s entire complement had received orders to their next commands, and almost 40% of the ship’s company had already departed for their new assignments. The best course of action to facilitate Mayport-based Samuel Eliot Morison’s accelerated decommissioning schedule and to minimize disruption for the sailors and families of both ships would be to have the two frigates swap crews as well as home ports. Consequently, on 13 February, Samuel Eliot Morison berthed outboard of Estocin and the two frigates began the turnover process. An official ceremony on 23 February 2002 capped off the changeover, and the following day, with her new commander and crew in place, Estocin left Norfolk and headed for Florida.
Arriving on 28 February 2002, Estocin called Mayport home once again. Save for three naval reserve training weekends, the frigate spent all of March and most of April in maintenance and upkeep to restore the ship to full operational readiness. Essential work completed included replacing a gas turbine engine, repairing all air conditioning systems and refrigeration piping, renovating the mast, overhauling the steering system, and repairing all of the ship’s combat systems. Capt. Bill Marlowe, Commander, DesRon 6, visited the ship on 25 March to check on the work’s progress.
From 26 April 2002, Estocin operated in the Jacksonville and Virginia capes operating areas participating as opposing forces in a joint task force exercise for the George Washington Battle Group. Upon her return to Mayport on 6 May, the ship immediately entered a restricted availability period, during which workers reinforced the ship’s structural elements and refurbished the diesel engines, fire pumps, potable water tanks, fuel tanks, galley, mess decks, and the combined antenna system dome. The frigate paused from the repair activity on 22–23 June to put to sea for naval reserve training weekend. During the underway period, the ship’s controllable pitch propeller system developed a severe hydraulic oil leak. Fortunately, her gas turbine systems technicians proved able to control the problem, and Estocin returned to port safely, continuing with the restricted availability through 21 July.
Estocin steamed north to Bucksport, Maine, on 22 July 2002 to take part in the town’s Fort Knox Bay Festival (26–28 July). More than 2,000 visitors toured the frigate during her stay, and several members of the crew participated in the festival parade. The ship returned to Mayport on 1 August but was underway again less than a week later. After stopping briefly at Key West (9 August), the ship steamed to the Puerto Rico operating area, taking part in the DesRon 6 group sail, training with John L. Hall (FFG-32) and Boone. On 10 August, Estocin assisted the disabled Haitian cargo vessel Rose Patience, which had lost propulsion and was taking on water. Estocin’s rescue team provided damage control and first aid, and the frigate towed the cargo ship to Haitian waters. The group sail continued through 19 August, with the ships conducting gunnery, torpedo, and VBSS exercises and shiphandling and communications drills, and Estocin returned to Mayport the next day.
Following nearly three weeks of upkeep, Estocin got underway again on 6 September 2002 for CompTuEx, serving as opposing forces for the Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) Battle Group. With the completion of the exercise on the 25th, the frigate turned her attention to counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean with JIATF, returning to Mayport on 9 October. From 28 October–6 November, Estocin played the role of an enemy ship yet again during JTFEX 03-1 for Harry S Truman and her consorts. She spent one day at home and then sailed for the Cherry Point operating area off North Carolina to assist with a special operations capability exercise with the Iwo Jima (LHD-7) Amphibious Ready Group through 12 November.
Estocin completed an intermediate maintenance availability from 13 November–2 December 2002 and was underway for a post-availability shakedown on 3–4 December. On 7 December, the frigate hosted a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony for the Fleet Reserve Association. Conducting the commemoration while steaming off Jacksonville, Estocin memorialized the sailors who perished on that fateful day in 1941 by casting flowers into the ocean. The frigate’s crew also honored the eight Pearl Harbor survivors on board for the ceremony. Before returning to port, Estocin then held three burials at sea for recently deceased sailors. The ship remained in port on holiday leave and standdown for the rest of the year.
With the dawning of the New Year 2003, Estocin’s crewmen busied themselves with final preparations for the frigate’s decommissioning and transfer to the Turkish navy. Capt. James R. Martin, Commander of Destroyer Squadron 6, visited the ship on 16 January to check on their progress. On the 22nd, Estocin sailed off Jacksonville to test equipment while underway. From 4–6 February, representatives from the Turkish government came to inspect the ship, including an underway demonstration on the 5th. Ammunition stores were offloaded on the 20th. The first group of Turkish sailors arrived on 25 February to begin turnover, with the rest of the crew arriving on 14 March.
Estocin was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 4 April 2003 at Mayport. Rear Adm. John P. Debbout, USNR, Deputy Commander of Naval Reserve Forces Command and former commanding officer of Estocin, served as guest speaker.
During the ceremony, the ship was transferred to Turkey and immediately recommissioned as Göksu (F.497), Cmdr. John Yildirim in command.
||Dates of Command
|Cmdr. John H. Todd
||10 January 1981–18 February 1983
|Cmdr. Robert J. Maloit, Jr.
||18 February 1983–26 April 1985
|Cmdr. James T. Williams
||26 April 1985–15 March 1987
|Cmdr. John B. Foley III
||15 March 1987–18 February 1989
|Cmdr. William J. Steelman
||18 February 1989–15 December 1990
|Cmdr. Joseph Krenzel
||15 December 1990–27 September 1992
|Cmdr. John P. Debbout, USNR
||27 September 1992–22 July 1994
|Cmdr. Joseph A. Ottum, USNR
||12 July 1994–4 May 1996
|Cmdr. John C. MacKercher Jr.
||4 May 1996–25 November 1997
|Cmdr. David W. Prothero
||25 November 1997–10 May 1999
|Cmdr. Robert E. Oldani
||10 May 1999–10 February 2001
|Cmdr. James J. Shannon
||10 February 2001–23 February 2002
|Cmdr. Scott J. Phillpott
||23 February 2002–4 April 2003
7 March 2019