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Samuel B. Roberts III (FFG-58)

1986–2015

Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr. -- born in San Francisco, Calif., on 12 May 1921 -- enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve on 13 April 1939 at Portland, Oreg. He advanced to the rank of Coxswain and served continuously until his death on 28 September 1942. Roberts received the Navy Cross posthumously for his extraordinary heroism while serving on the crew of a landing craft that, despite intense enemy fire, rescued stranded marines from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands the previous day.

The first Samuel B. Roberts, an escort ship (DE-413), served only briefly in 1944, but received the Presidential Unit Citation for her role in the Battle off Samar in October 1944. The second Samuel B. Roberts, a destroyer (DD-823), served from 1946-1970.

III

(FFG-58: displacement 4,100; length 453'; beam 47'; draft 26'; speed 29+ knots; complement 219; armament 1 Mk 13 Guided Missile Launcher with RGM-84 Harpoon surface to surface missiles and RIM-66 Standard surface to air missiles, 1 76 millimeter Mk 75 rapid fire gun, 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, 1 Mk 15 Phalanx Close-in Weapon System, up to 4 .50 caliber M2 machine guns, and aircraft 2 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawks; class Oliver Hazard Perry)

The third Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) was laid down on 21 May 1984 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works Corp.; launched on 8 December 1984; sponsored by Mrs. Ivonette E. Roberts, sister-in-law of the late Coxswain Roberts; and commissioned on 12 April 1986, Cmdr. Paul X. Rinn in command.


Samuel B. Roberts turns crisply while carrying out training in New England waters prior to her commissioning. (Bath Iron Works photograph -- donated -- U.S. Navy Photograph 130416-N-ZZ999-203, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: Samuel B. Roberts turns crisply while carrying out training in New England waters prior to her commissioning. (Bath Iron Works photograph -- donated -- U.S. Navy Photograph 130416-N-ZZ999-203, Navy NewsStand)

During the first dog watch on 14 April 1988, Samuel B. Roberts steamed at 28 knots about 55 miles northeast of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf. The frigate had just escorted a pair of reflagged tankers during the 25th Operation Earnest Will convoy—her 13th convoy. The U.S. had launched Earnest Will to ensure freedom of navigation to ships sailing in the Arabian Gulf during the “Tanker War” between Iran and Iraq. Samuel B. Roberts had just shepherded Hunter and Striker, a pair of 150-foot tugs the Americans chartered from the Kuwaiti Oil Tanker Co. and converted to improvised minesweepers, safely into Bahrain, and then made for a rendezvous with combat store ship San Jose (AFS-7) to replenish her stores.

Suddenly, lookout SN Bobby Gibson spotted three mines ahead in an area that had already been swept by coalition minesweepers. Cmdr. Rinn raced to the bridge and confirmed through his binoculars Gibson’s alarm when he spotted mines surrounding the frigate. The commanding officer quietly sent his men to battle stations without sounding the alarm to avoid panicking them or triggering mines, and ordered men below topside in the event of mine damage below the waterline. Rinn weighed his options and decided to attempt to follow the ship’s wake to exit the minefield. “I thought,” Rinn afterward noted, “we came in that way so we probably could go out that way.” The ship reversed engines but Samuel B. Roberts had already passed over additional mines, and at 1649 she struck a fourth device set deeply. The explosion lifted the ship into the air, drove her bow down into the water, and blew a 21-foot hole in the port side near Frame 276. The impact damaged the hull, deckhouse, and foundation structures, and burning fuel shot a column of fire from the stack. The blast shook the main engines from their mountings, flooded the engine room, opened cracks in her superstructure, and caused a split in the ship’s bulkhead between the main engine room and an auxiliary machinery room.

The explosion thrust some sailors up into the overhead and threw other crewmen across compartments (helmets protected them from fatal injuries) Ten sailors sustained severe wounds in the attack, which injured additional men, some of whom endured horrible burns. Men stunned by the mine hesitated before they responded. The shock wave broke the metatarsal bone in Rinn’s left foot but despite intense pain he tied his shoelaces tightly and led his men. The menacing sight of swarms of snakes and sharks in the water helped persuade him to stay and fight, because of his realization that men would die if they abandoned ship.

Rear Adm. Anthony A. Less, Commander Joint Task Force Middle East/Middle East Force radioed Rinn several times from his flagship, Coronado (AGF-11), and at one point asked him to evaluate the possibility of losing Samuel B. Roberts. “No higher honor,” the captain replied, a reference to when the Japanese sank the first Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) during the Battle of Leyte Gulf on 25 October 1944. That ship’s survivors had pulled Cmdr. Robert W. Copeland, their commanding officer, from the water and Copeland said he could think of “no higher honor than to have served with these men.”

Samuel B. Roberts’ temporary loss of most systems augured poorly for the ship when Iranian frigate Sahand (F.74) closed to 23 miles, apparently intent on taking propaganda pictures or Americans hostage, but Rinn warned the vessel away. Then an Iranian Lockheed P-3F Orion orbited suspiciously, until Samuel B. Roberts locked fire-control radar onto the plane and it fled while the crew controlled the damage. The vessels that assisted the stricken frigate included amphibious transport dock Trenton (LPD-14), Capt. Robert M. Nutwell in command, which provided equipment and fresh water. Trenton received one of the ten wounded sailors from Samuel B. Roberts who suffered ghastly burns about his upper body, arms, neck, and face. Following the patient’s stabilization, a helo flew the man to Administrative Support Unit Bahrain.

The intensive training of the crew and their valiant dedication saved Samuel B. Roberts. “He is a master at damage control,” Less said of Rinn, but the commander unassumingly paid tribute to his men. “They never hesitated to do the right thing,” Rinn recalled, “and showed incredible bravery in the face of almost-certain death.” “Their successful battle against all odds,” Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, declared, “is the stuff of which naval tradition is made.” American, British, Dutch, French, and Italian ships swept the ten miles surrounding the area where the frigate struck the mine, and then expanded their search another five miles, locating eight additional mines of Iranian origins. The lack of barnacles or marine growth on the devices revealed their recent deployment, and on 18 April the U.S. consequently launched Operation Praying Mantis—retaliation against the Iranian-occupied Rakhsh, Salman (Sassan), and Sīrrī-D (Nassr) oil platforms. Hunter meanwhile towed Samuel B. Roberts into Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on 17 April, the frigate proudly flying a huge Stars and Stripes that her signalmen dubbed “the Chevy-dealer model.” The crew was flown to Naval Station (NS) Newport, R.I., and Dutch heavy lift ship Mighty Servant II sailed the frigate to a drydock at Bath Iron Works, Maine.

On 3 May 1988, Adm. Crowe presented medals to crewmen for their actions in saving the ship. Rinn received the Legion of Merit, and the crew received the Navy Unit Commendation medal as well as the following individual awards: 10 Bronze Stars; 14 Navy Commendation Medals; and two Purple Hearts. An additional four Purple Hearts were awarded to crewmen hospitalized after the mining of the ship. In addition, Rinn was awarded a Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for his “superior performance and management of the wounded,” along with the U.S. Navy League John Paul Jones Inspirational Leadership Award. He also received an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.


The size of the hole bears mute testimony to the fury of the mine’s detonation, while Samuel B. Roberts rests in dry dock at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Workers clamber over scaffolding and temporarily make the ship seaworthy for her voyage to the United States. (PH1 Chuck Mussi, All Hands, August 1988, No. 857, page 14)
Caption: The size of the hole bears mute testimony to the fury of the mine’s detonation, while Samuel B. Roberts rests in dry dock at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Workers clamber over scaffolding and temporarily make the ship seaworthy for her voyage to the United States. (PH1 Chuck Mussi, All Hands, August 1988, No. 857, page 14)


One of the ship’s crewmen reflects about the crew’s ordeal as he surveys the repair work at Dubai. (PH1 Chuck Mussi, All Hands, August 1988, No. 857, page 15)
Caption: One of the ship’s crewmen reflects about the crew’s ordeal as he surveys the repair work at Dubai. (PH1 Chuck Mussi, All Hands, August 1988, No. 857, page 15)


Jets flying from aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) sink Iranian frigate Sahand (74) in retaliation for the mining of Samuel B. Roberts, four days later during Operation Praying Mantis, 18 April 1988. (U.S. Navy Photograph 081212-N-1522S-005, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: Jets flying from aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) sink Iranian frigate Sahand (74) in retaliation for the mining of Samuel B. Roberts, four days later during Operation Praying Mantis, 18 April 1988. (U.S. Navy Photograph 081212-N-1522S-005, Navy NewsStand)


Dutch heavy lift ship Mighty Servant II returns Samuel B. Roberts to Bath, Maine. (U.S. Navy photograph, Navy Times, 28 August 2006, page 16)
Caption: Dutch heavy lift ship Mighty Servant II returns Samuel B. Roberts to Bath, Maine. (U.S. Navy photograph, Navy Times, 28 August 2006, page 16)

Samuel B. Roberts completed her repairs, and following sea trials returned to service on 16 October 1989. On 2 August 1990, however, the Iraqis invaded Kuwait. On that date Independence (CV-62) sailed in the Indian Ocean, Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) steamed in the Mediterranean Sea, and eight Middle East Force ships operated in the Persian Gulf. Independence received orders directing her to proceed to the Northern Arabian Sea to support what subsequently became Operation Desert Shield, a UN sanctioned economic blockade of Iraq by a coalition that eventually comprised 29 nations.

Ongoing concerns over Iraqi smuggling compelled the UN to begin multinational Maritime Interception Operations (MIOs) on 16 August 1990. The MIOs attempted to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions imposed against the Iraqis. Resolution 661 prohibited the export of cargo that originated in Iraq, while Resolution 665 called upon the coalition to verify compliance. The food-for-oil agreement permitted the Iraqis to sell limited amounts of oil to pay for food and medicine. The coalition consistently refined MIOs to contain brazen efforts by Iraqi criminals and on occasion, Islamic jihadists (who used lucrative drug trafficking that specialized in heroin and methamphetamines to finance terrorism). Allied ships and aircraft began to track and intercept ships that entered or left Iraqi and Iraqi-occupied Kuwaiti ports.

Samuel B. Roberts, Cmdr. John W. Townes III, in command, deployed for the war (15 August 1990–28 March 1991). The frigate’s preparations including installing a 25 millimeter chain gun on 11 August. The ship’s company bid farewell to their loved ones as they set out on a hot summer day with temperatures that rose into the 80s (F). RM3 John Hardy had only married his wife Kelly four days before he set sail into the unknown. Samuel B. Roberts onloaded weapons at Naval Weapons Station Earle, N.J., on the 16th, worked up with the John F. Kennedy (CV-67) Battle Group (18–22 August), passed through the Suez Canal on 4 September, and joined the Red Sea Maritime Interception Force as it enforced UN sanctions against the Iraqis. She occasionally visited Port Hurghada, Egypt, Naples, Italy, Rhodes, Greece, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but spent many days all but ceaselessly patrolling the Red Sea.

As the UN deadline for the Iraqis to withdrawal their troops from Kuwait approached on 16 January 1991, U.S. aircraft carriers advanced to their stations near the Persian Gulf. The following night nine ships sailing in the Persian Gulf and in the Mediterranean and Red Seas fired BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles at pre-programmed Iraqi military and political targets, and a massive armada of allied aircraft struck a variety of Iraqi targets. Later that same night, President George H.W. Bush announced to the American people the beginning of the liberation of Kuwait.

Samuel B. Roberts’ intercepted numerous merchant vessels during the deployment, and her crewmen boarded and inspected more than 100 merchantmen. On 28 January 1991, Samuel B. Roberts diverted Red Sea Energy in the North Red Sea after an inspection team found 160 railroad cars on board which proved inaccessible. The German-flagged freighter, enroute from Greece to Aqaba, Jordan, was diverted to another port. On the 2nd of February she diverted two freighters in the North Red Sea, and Halyburton (FFG-40) assisted her with one of the ships. Samuel B. Roberts recorded her 100th interception on 24 February.

The coalition attacks devastated the Iraqis so thoroughly that the principal fighting on the ground ended in barely 100 hours, and on 27 February President Bush declared the completion of the liberation of Kuwait. Samuel B. Roberts nonetheless diverted another freighter in the North Red Sea on 5 March, and came about following the cease fire. In company with John F. Kennedy, Mississippi (CGN-40), San Jacinto (CG-56), Thomas S. Gates (CG-51), Preble (DDG-46), and Moosbrugger (DD-980), she passed northbound through the Suez Canal on 12 March, on the 18th through the Strait of Gibraltar, and reached home at Newport.

Samuel B. Roberts returned to a heroes’ welcome as more than 3,000 people greeted the returning warship and her men with flags, banners, posters, and balloons. Three Coast Guard utility boats shot streams of red, white, and blue water over the frigate’s course, and the gun of the Newport Artillery Company, a War of Independence reenactment group, boomed out a salute as the ship passed Castle Hill in heavy fog. The sun broke through just as the ship approached the pier, and the crowd burst into thunderous applause.

Following her return from the war, Samuel B. Roberts set out on a cruise on the Great Lakes (15 June–23 July 1991). The ship rounded New England, entered the St. Lawrence Seaway, and visited Ogdensburg, N.Y. (17–18 June). She then crossed Lake Ontario, passed through the Welland Canal and put in to Buffalo, N.Y. (19–25 June), visited Windsor, Canada (26–30 June), continued across Lakes Huron and Michigan and stood in to Milwaukee and Muskegon, Wisc. (1–6 and 6–8 July, respectively), and resumed her voyage southward to Chicago, Ill. (8–12 July). Samuel B. Roberts then swung her prow around and returned, calling again at Ogdensburg (16–19 July) and then (19 July) at Montréal, Canada, before returning to Newport.

The veteran frigate shifted her home port to Norfolk, Va., on 10 March 1994. Samuel B. Roberts continued to turn her prow eastward and deployed to the Mediterranean in 1996, where, at Gibraltar on 11–12 July, Klakring (FFG-42) relieved the ship as she concluded the deployment.

Samuel B. Roberts subsequently transferred her home port to NS Mayport, Fla. On 12 January 2004, her embarked Seahawk, of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 44 Detachment 7, tracked a suspicious vessel in the Southern Command’s area of responsibility. The helo guided the frigate to intercept the boat, and Samuel B. Roberts dispatched her boarding team and Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 403, which seized eight drug traffickers and more than 7,000-pounds of cocaine.

The warship sailed into Unitas 46-05 Pacific Phase during the summer of 2005. The two-week exercise enabled the vessels and aircraft of the six participating nations to train together in scenarios ranging from maritime interception, antisubmarine, and electronic warfare operations. Samuel B. Roberts worked with Coast Guard cutter Forward (WMEC-911) and Colombian, Ecuadorean, Panamanian, and Peruvian forces in Colombian waters (11–16 July). The frigate then passed through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean. Following some additional training and upkeep, she took part in Unitas 46-06 Atlantic Phase, where she launched a BQM-74E target drone to simulate an enemy attack. As the ship steamed in South American waters she worked with the Argentineans, Brazilians, Spaniards, and Uruguayans. Samuel B. Roberts refueled from Spanish oiler Marqués de la Ensenada (A.11) on 22 October, and on the 25th launched a visit, board, search and seizure team that trained with Uruguayan frigate General Artigas (ROU.2) off the Brazilian coast.

Mitscher (DDG-57), Cmdr. William P. McKinley in command, steamed around South America in 2007 and shifted from the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific Fleet when she took part in Partnership of the Americas 2007. The wide-ranging exercise consisted of three phases. Phase 1 comprised the Atlantic and Pacific sections of Unitas 48-07, as well as Teamwork South, a similar but localized Chilean bi-annual exercise. Phase 2 comprised a variety of theater security cooperation events in the Caribbean and Central America running the gamut from military-to-military cooperation to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, combined training, exercises and operations, intelligence sharing, and maritime security assistance. Phase 3 encompassed Panamax 07, an annual exercise designed to assist the Panamanians in protecting the sovereignty and security of the Panama Canal.

Mitscher took Salt Lake City (SSN-716) in tow from Portsmouth, N.H., to Cristóbal, Panama (23 March-7 April 2007), while the attack submarine, which was decommissioned on 15 January 2006, made her final voyage to the breakers at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. At times during the following months, Samuel B. Roberts operated with Task Group 40.0, which also consisted of Mitscher, dock landing ship Pearl Harbor (LSD-52), and Chilean frigate Almirante Latorre (FFG.14)—which sailed nearly 4,000 miles from her home waters to participate in the task group’s maneuvers.

In addition, Samuel B. Roberts took part in JTFEx 06-2 Operation Bold Step (21–31 July 2007). The exercise attempted to present U.S., interagency, and coalition forces with “realistic and dynamic exercise threats” that replicated global challenges. More than 16,000 servicemembers and 30 ships and submarines from five countries participated. Bold Step provided sustainment training for the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG), consisting of Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), CSG 2, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 22, Vicksburg (CG-69), Kauffman (FFG-59), and McInerney (FFG-8). Additional participants included the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group, comprising amphibious assault ship Bataan (LHD-5), Shreveport (LPD-12), dock landing ship Oak Hill (LSD-51), Vella Gulf (CG-72), Mahan, and Underwood (FFG-36).

The exercise also served as the forward-certifying event for the Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG, comprising Dwight D. Eisenhower, CSG 8, CVW-7, Commander, DesRon 28, Anzio (CG-68), Mason (DDG-87), Ramage (DDG-61), fast combat support ship Arctic (T-AOE-8), and attack submarine Newport News (SSN-750). At times, French attack submarine Emeraude (S-604) also operated with Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Soldiers of the Army’s 34th Infantry Division and the Canadian 8th Brigade group made up the Combined Coalition Force Land Component Command during the exercise. Meanwhile, Cape St. George (CG-71), Nitze (DDG-94), Roosevelt (DDG-80), Doyle (FFG-39), Samuel B. Roberts, and Taylor (FFG-50), reinforced by Columbian submarine Tayrona (SS-29), acted as the opposition forces. Certain Second Fleet staff directed the exercise from on board Wasp (LHD-1). At one point, British aircraft carrier Illustrious (R-06) operated 14 U.S. marine AV-8B Harrier IIs, and she also became the first foreign ship to record a landing by a marine Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey. The increasingly seasoned frigate also operated at times with Mahan, British Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishment ship Wave Ruler (A.390), German frigate Sachsen (F.219), and Argentinean replenishment ship Patagonia (B.1).

An accident marred Samuel B. Roberts’ voyage, however, as she began to wrap up the deployment and entered the harbor of Puerto Belgrano, Argentina, at 1332 on 11 May 2007. The ship, Cmdr. J. Marc Weeks in command, set the sea and anchor detail and eased into the port, but the 1A and 1B gas turbine engines surged and then suddenly lost power—possibly due to overspeed. The frigate drifted dangerously out of the channel, and Weeks ordered his crew to rotate the auxiliary power units (APUs) to 350° and turn them on, while engineering sailors also attempted to restore the engines to power. The Argentinean pilot directed a pair of made up tugs to render assistance, the forward one of which tried, at full power, to pull the ship ahead, while the aft tug pulled her stern fair at best power. All of these efforts could not counter set the strong winds off the port quarter, however, and Samuel B. Roberts ran aground onto some soft mud in the harbor’s approaches.

The frigate continued to stop engines while she engaged the shaft brake, used the APUs, deballasted aft, and as the tugs attempted to pull her fair. The ship’s company and the Argentineans concentrated their recovery efforts on pulling Samuel B. Roberts free toward the port side of the marked channel, in order to prevent her from exiting the starboard side of the channel. The combined attempts finally succeeded in breaking the ship free of the mud at 1432, and the tug and the ship’s APUs enabled her to move back into the charted channel and moor port side outboard Spanish frigate Santa María (F.81).

Argentinean naval divers resolutely battled visibility issues that night because of the silt in the basin and nighttime conditions while they inspected the ship’s hull, screw, rudder, APUs, and sonar dome. The divers carried out a second inspection the following day, and determined that she escaped damage. The Argentineans removed by hand soft mud that had caked onto the blades, and did not detect any oil leaks or anything wrapped around the screw, propeller, or strut. The divers also took video footage of the ship, but the murky water hindered the clarity of the video, though it clearly showed the sharp edges of the blades, hardware, and running gear. The Argentineans dived a third time on the afternoon of the 14th, but they were delayed and multiple vessels entered and stood out of the harbor, churning the water, and together with sunset again interfered with the visibility. The divers returned for a fourth dive on the morning of the 15th during high tide, and, following a fifth dive completed their inspections. Six different divers verified that Samuel B. Roberts emerged from the grounding without any visible damage, and the ship meanwhile successfully tested various systems and Weeks considered her seaworthy. Samuel B. Roberts shaped a course out to sea and visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, en route her return home.

Hurricane Felix devastated northeastern Nicaragua on 4 September 2007. United States-led international relief forces, including Wasp and Samuel B. Roberts, played a major role in the relief operations. Wasp airlifted more than 125,000-pounds of relief supplies and medically evacuated 34 people. Joint Task Force Bravo coordinated efforts by the two SH-60B Seahawks from HSL-48 Detachment 7, embarked on board Samuel B. Roberts, and Army, Navy, and Marine helos including Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragons, Boeing Vertol MH-47 Chinooks, and UH-60 Black Hawks, while they flew dozens of missions into an airfield at Puerto Cabezas. A USAF Lockheed C-130 Hercules from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., and a USMC Hercules arrived later with additional supplies. The relief efforts continued until 18 September.

Samuel B. Roberts, with HSL-60 Detachment 2 and Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 402 embarked, took part in recovering 41 bales of cocaine that smugglers on board a go-fast vessel jettisoned during an interception in the Eastern Pacific, on 2 December 2008. The illicit cargo comprised more than 13 metric tons valued at more than $220 million.


Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, Commander Naval Forces Southern Command and Fourth Fleet, inspects some of the seized cocaine stacked on Samuel B. Roberts’ fantail after the ship returns to Mayport, Fla., 12 December 2008. (MC1 Leigh Stilles, U.S. Navy Photograph 081212-N-1522S-005, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, Commander Naval Forces Southern Command and Fourth Fleet, inspects some of the seized cocaine stacked on Samuel B. Roberts’ fantail after the ship returns to Mayport, Fla., 12 December 2008. (MC1 Leigh Stilles, U.S. Navy Photograph 081212-N-1522S-005, Navy NewsStand)


Several ships and aircraft from different agencies intercept and seize more than 13 metric tons of narcotics worth more than $220 million from smugglers, and Samuel B. Roberts transports the illicit cargoes back to Mayport for destruction, 12 December 2008. (MC1 Leigh Stilles, U.S. Navy Photograph 081212-N-1522S-006, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: Several ships and aircraft from different agencies intercept and seize more than 13 metric tons of narcotics worth more than $220 million from smugglers, and Samuel B. Roberts transports the illicit cargoes back to Mayport for destruction, 12 December 2008. (MC1 Leigh Stilles, U.S. Navy Photograph 081212-N-1522S-006, Navy NewsStand)


United States Ambassador to Panama Barbara Stephenson (right) and Lt. Cmdr. Cory Christensen (left), from the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy at Panama, greet the aircrew of Samuel B. Roberts’ embarked SH-60B Seahawk of HSL-60 Detachment 2, 26 November 2008. Torrential rains cause severe flooding in the Central American country and the ship diverts from her counter-narcotics patrols to render humanitarian assistance to the Panamanians. (U.S. Navy Photograph 081125-N-0000X-001, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: United States Ambassador to Panama Barbara Stephenson (right) and Lt. Cmdr. Cory Christensen (left), from the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy at Panama, greet the aircrew of Samuel B. Roberts’ embarked SH-60B Seahawk of HSL-60 Detachment 2, 26 November 2008. Torrential rains cause severe flooding in the Central American country and the ship diverts from her counter-narcotics patrols to render humanitarian assistance to the Panamanians. (U.S. Navy Photograph 081125-N-0000X-001, Navy NewsStand)

Samuel B. Roberts carried out a Caribbean Patrol (October 2008–March 2009). The ship worked up off the Virginia capes in June 2009, and in the third week of that month stood in to Boston, Mass., for Bunker Hill Day. She then rounded out the month by taking part in the Windjammer Festival in Boothe Bay Harbor, Maine.

Samuel B. Roberts set out in November 2009 for African waters as part of Africa Partnership Station West, an international initiative developed by Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa to improve maritime safety and security with African partner countries. On 18 January 2010, she visited Pointe Noire in the Congo. Early that year, Nigerian patrol boat Burutu (P.174) collided with Samuel B. Roberts while both vessels carried out a training exercise. The latter sounded a warning using her loudspeakers that the Nigerian vessel sailed on a collision course, but the patrol boat subsequently scraped along the frigate’s side, requiring $371,000 in maintenance and repairs to Samuel B. Roberts. The ship came about for home in February and completed an availability.

The frigate returned to African waters as part of the Africa Partnership Station East (14 June–14 December 2011). She trained with a number of African navies on damage control, navigation, engineering, and shipboard electrical safety, and in addition, spent a month patrolling for pirates off the African east coast. Yellow-Bellied Slider 431, the ship’s embarked SH-60B Seahawk of HSL-42 Detachment 1, often provided her eyes and ears during these patrols, and helped protect mariners from the depredations of the pirates. Samuel B. Roberts visited Punta Delgada in the Azores Islands on 22 July, and on 19 July stood in to Mombasa, Kenya. The warship followed that by calling at Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on 1 August, and on the 26th at Maputo, Mozambique, at Port Louis, Mauritius, on 5 September. The ship also visited Port Victoria in the Seychelles. Cmdr. Angel C. Cruz, Samuel B. Roberts’ commanding officer, reported that some “of the African ports made for challenging sea and anchor details. It is imperative that ships conduct adequate research of each African port”. Cruz added that ship’s submitting reports on their visits would provide “extremely useful” information to other vessels.


Samuel B. Roberts arrives in Mombasa, Kenya, while training as part of Africa Partnership Station 2011, 19 July 2011. (MC2 William Jamieson, U.S. Navy Photograph 110719-N-OV802-083, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: Samuel B. Roberts arrives in Mombasa, Kenya, while training as part of Africa Partnership Station 2011, 19 July 2011. (MC2 William Jamieson, U.S. Navy Photograph 110719-N-OV802-083, Navy NewsStand)


Sailors walk down the gangway to reunite with their loved ones at Mayport when Samuel B. Roberts returns from a deployment to the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Horn of Africa, and Indian Ocean, 14 December 2011. (MC2 Jacob Sippel, U.S. Navy Photograph 111214-N-AW702-007, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: Sailors walk down the gangway to reunite with their loved ones at Mayport when Samuel B. Roberts returns from a deployment to the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Horn of Africa, and Indian Ocean, 14 December 2011. (MC2 Jacob Sippel, U.S. Navy Photograph 111214-N-AW702-007, Navy NewsStand)


EN2 Stuardo Juarez greets his newborn daughter for the first time when he returns with the ship, 14 December 2011. (MC2 Jacob Sippel, U.S. Navy Photograph 111214-N-AW702-004, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: EN2 Stuardo Juarez greets his newborn daughter for the first time when he returns with the ship, 14 December 2011. (MC2 Jacob Sippel, U.S. Navy Photograph 111214-N-AW702-004, Navy NewsStand)

Samuel B. Roberts began 2012 participating as an opposing force during a series of Second Fleet exercises for the Enterprise Strike Group (13–24 January 2012). The ship followed that with work in dry dock into May. The frigate enjoyed a brief (8–13 February 2013) sojourn at New Orleans, La., which gave her the opportunity to take part in the Mardi Gras festival. While the warship deployed to the north coast of Africa (23 April–23 October 2013), she took part in Operations Jukebox Lotus and Active Endeavor. NATO Standing Naval Force Mediterranean initiated Active Endeavor patrols in the eastern Mediterranean following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and the patrols tracked vessels in an effort to stop Islamists from smuggling arms and jihadists across the sea. Samuel B. Roberts’ four embarked Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned air systems (UAS) set a new Navy record of 1,712 Fire Scout UAS flight hours in support of mission tasking, breaking the previous record by more than 800 hours. The ship also trained with the French Navy and uniquely with the Albanian Coast Guard in visit, board, search and seizure operations, and called at: Durrës, Albania; Naples, Gaeta, and Augusta Bay, Italy; and Souda Bay, Greece.

Samuel B. Roberts shifted to DesRon 26 in mid-March 2014, and then joined a group sail across the Atlantic to Faslane, Scotland. While the ship lay at that port, however, maintenance issues required her to replace the 1A gas turbine engine, and she thus missed Joint Warrior 14-1, an important allied exercise in the region. Samuel B. Roberts deployed to the Mediterranean (16 June–15 December 2014), and again participated in Jukebox Lotus and Active Endeavor, as well as Oaken Lotus. Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 48 Detachment 9 logged 329 MQ-8B Fire Scout sorties of 1,121 hours in support of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions while operating from the ship during the voyage. The frigate steamed 28,808 nautical miles and also visited: Augusta Bay and Taranto, Italy; Rhodes and Souda Bay, Greece; Haifa, Israel; and Rota, Spain. The year proved to be Samuel B. Roberts’ final one in commissioned service, and she steamed 42,202 nautical miles in 2014.


Capt. Rinn (retired) shares his experiences to junior officers during a Surface Warfare Junior Officer Tactical Program summit at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, 9 February 2015. The image on the screen aptly demonstrates the mine’s devastating explosion on that fateful day in 1988. (MC3 Raymond D. Diaz III, U.S. Navy Photograph 150209-N-BB269-036, Navy NewsStand)
Caption: Capt. Rinn (retired) shares his experiences to junior officers during a Surface Warfare Junior Officer Tactical Program summit at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, 9 February 2015. The image on the screen aptly demonstrates the mine’s devastating explosion on that fateful day in 1988. (MC3 Raymond D. Diaz III, U.S. Navy Photograph 150209-N-BB269-036, Navy NewsStand)

Samuel B. Roberts was decommissioned at NS Mayport on 22 May 2015, and is berthed, awaiting her final disposal, at the Naval Sea Systems Command Inactive Ships-on-Site Maintenance Office, Philadelphia, Pa.

Detailed history pending.

Mark L. Evans
4 April 2019

Published: Thu Apr 04 08:22:30 EDT 2019