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McClusky (FFG-41)


Clarence Wade McClusky Jr. (1 June 1902-27 June 1976). For additional information see Clarence Wade McClusky Jr.

(FFG-41: displacement 4,100; length 453'; beam 47'; draft 26'; speed 28+ knots; complement 219; armament RIM-66 SM-1MR Standard surface-to-air missiles, RGM-84 Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles, 1 76 millimeter rapid fire gun, 1 Mk 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS), 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, and 4 .50-caliber machine guns; aircraft 2 Kaman SH-2 Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) I Seasprites; class Oliver Hazard Perry)

McClusky (FFG-41) was laid down on 21 October 1981 at Todd Pacific Shipyards Corp., Los Angeles Division; launched on 18 September 1982; sponsored by Mrs. Ruth M. McClusky, widow of the late Capt. McClusky; and commissioned on 10 December 1983 at Long Beach, Calif., Cmdr. Robert B. Lynch in command.

McClusky, and her embarked Seahawk, from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 43 Detachment 6, operated on a counter-narcotics patrol with a Joint Inter-Agency Task Force in the Eastern Pacific when she received distress reports that Ecuadorian vessels The Andrea and San Luis foundered, on 9 January 2004. McClusky made for the area at 30 knots, and her Seahawk spotted The Andrea, directing the frigate toward her. McClusky reached the overcrowded fishing boat, and rescued 86 migrants, providing them with food and medical attention. The helo meanwhile located San Luis and instructed her to sail toward McClusky. The Americans rescued an additional 83 people, who had been at sea for 15 days, consuming the last of their food and water three days before – and while their craft took on water. Many of the migrants from both boats suffered from dehydration, malnutrition, exposure, and a variety of illnesses, and the frigate’s crewmembers cared for their 169 charges and returned them to shore.

McClusky, Cmdr. Herman T. K. Awai in command, rescued 299 Ecuadorians while she deployed with a Joint Inter-Agency Task Force to the Eastern Pacific during the summer of 2005. As McClusky patrolled those waters one evening in late August, the ship and Lonewolf 55, her embarked helicopter from HSL-45, detected a nameless and unflagged vessel sailing without her navigational running lights, about 100 miles off the Guatemalan coast. The Americans attempted more than once to contact the boat in English and Spanish, and Cmdr. Awai dispatched a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment in a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to investigate. The boarders discovered 71 Ecuadorians, who explained that their master and his crew had abandoned them several days previously, leaving the people helplessly afloat on their dangerously overloaded boat, a vessel ill-suited for the lengthy voyage. The Americans safely transferred the migrants to the Guatemalan authorities.

Eleven days later, McClusky’s watchstanders spotted 55-foot Ecuadorian-flagged fishing vessel Lakshmi I, about 300 miles south of Guatemala. Ensign Ravi Sharma of Tampa Bay, Fla., McClusky’s conning officer, observed that the boat sailed dangerously overloaded, and the ship sent a team in a RHIB. The sea grew choppy and the migrants expressed concern for their safety in the deteriorating weather, requesting safety on board the frigate. McClusky’s sailors spent six hours fighting the worsening weather while transferring the 166 people to the ship, providing them with food, water, and medical attention. “I was excited to be a part of this valuable mission,” RHIB team crewman SN Alfred Meza of Los Angeles, Calif., said. The ship subsequently returned the castaways ashore.

Within hours of their departure, however, a McClusky lookout sighted another nameless, unflagged, 55-foot vessel, about 65 miles off the Guatemalan coast. A RHIB team from the frigate assessed the vessel as unseaworthy, and the 62 migrants on board requested to return with McClusky, the ship later returning them ashore.

Lonewolf 55 detected an unidentified, grey-hulled go-fast vessel in the Eastern Pacific on 30 August 2005. The go-fast repeatedly maneuvered erratically to evade the Seahawk, and the five people on board ignored multiple attempts by the helo’s crew to contact them via the radio in both English and Spanish. The Seahawk flew to a position from which the Americans prepared to fire a warning shot when the go-fast suddenly stopped. The frigate dispatched a law enforcement team in a RHIB, which boarded the vessel. The five crewmembers claimed that they had sailed on 20 August from Acapulco, Mexico, to search for friends they believed had vanished at sea. The boarders confiscated 129 bales of cocaine, each weighing approximately 50-pounds, however, and took the five suspects in custody.

HSL-45 Detachment 4 deployed to the Eastern Pacific with McClusky during the first Navy deployment of the Airborne Use of Force doctrine against drug traffickers (26 April-22 October 2007). Coast Guard helicopters had hitherto employed the doctrine, which involved using snipers equipped with .50 caliber rifles capable of disabling fire. While operating with Joint Interagency Task Force South, McClusky and embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments 101 and 103, interdicted four go-fasts and disrupted two more from their smuggling, confiscating 12 tons of cocaine with an estimated import value of $306 million from three of the boats.

McClusky was decommissioned at San Diego, Calif., on 14 January 2015.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

24 February 2015

Published: Tue May 30 12:49:49 EDT 2017