The second U.S. Navy ship named Simpson. The first Simpson (DD-221), named for the late Rear Admiral Edward Simpson (3 March 1824-1 December 1888), served from 1920 to 1946. The second Simpson (FFG-56) honored the late Rear Adm. Rodger Whitten Simpson (4 June 1898-10 December 1964).
(FFG-56: displacement 4,100; length 453'; beam 47'; draft 26'; speed 29+ knots; complement 219; armament Mk. 13 Guided Missile Launcher with RGM-84 Harpoon surface to surface missiles and RIM-66 Standard surface to air missiles, one 76 millimeter Mk. 75 rapid fire gun, six Mk. 46 torpedoes, one Mk 15 Phalanx Close-in Weapon System, two Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System Mk. III Seahawks; class Oliver Hazard Perry)
The second Simpson (FFG-56) was laid down on 27 February 1984 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works Corp.; launched on 31 August 1984; sponsored by Mrs. Grace Fowles-Simpson, widow of the late Rear Adm. Simpson; and commissioned on 21 September 1985, Cmdr. H. Wyman Howard, Jr., in command.
On 28 January 1986, the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Fla., launched the space shuttle STS-51L Challenger at 1138. The shuttle’s payload included NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite 2 and the Spartan-203 satellite. Escaping propellant combustion products cut into the craft’s liquid‑fuel booster, however, and 73 seconds after launch a massive explosion destroyed Challenger, killing all seven astronauts on board: naval aviator Cmdr. Michael J. Smith, and Francis R. Scobee, USAF, Ellison S. Onizuka, USAF, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair, Gregory B. Jarvis, and S. Christa McAuliffe. Smith had graduated from the Naval Academy. Simpson took part in the ensuing search and rescue effort, and subsequently received the Coast Guard Unit Commendation with Operational “O” for her participation.
An Iranian mine damaged guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), one of Simpson’s sister ships, in the Persian Gulf on 14 April 1988. On 18 April the U.S. launched Operation Praying Mantis: retaliation against the Iranian-occupied Rakhsh, Salman (Sassan), and Sīrrī-D (Nassr) oil platforms. During the forenoon and afternoon watches, guided missile cruiser Wainwright (CG-28), Simpson, and frigate Bagley (FF-1069) sank Iranian missile boat Joshan (P.225) with RIM-66 and RIM-67 Standard surface-to-air missiles (set for surface attacks), at least one RGM-84 Harpoon surface-to-surface missile, and 5-inch and 76 millimeter gunfire.
Simpson was decommissioned on 30 September 2015 at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
14 April 2015