For the first time in almost 38 years, there will be no Oliver Hazard Perry (OHP) Frigate on the fleet rolls of the United States Navy. The USS Simpson (FFG 56) was decommissioned in her homeport of Mayport, Florida, Sept. 29, and represented the last frigate in the Navy’s inventory.
The OHP Frigates were originally designed as cost efficient surface combatants with limited anti-air defense and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, to serve as escort protection for other ships.
In hindsight, they proved to be the Navy’s “little ship that could” for enduring missions that mushroomed over the last four decades, including maritime interdiction operations, counter narcotic efforts, and engagements with partner navies in fulfilling the Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, also known as the Maritime Strategy.
Ultimately the U.S. Navy commissioned 51 FFG-7 class frigates between 1977 and 1989, built by Bath Iron Works and Todd Shipyards. From the inception of the FFG-7 program, the Navy recognized a need for a large number of these frigates to replace World War II destroyers that were due to retire. In order to meet this numerical requirement, stringent design controls were placed on the size and, in particular, the costs, of the FFG-7.
The OHP class proved itself worthy in stemming the tide of illegal narcotics entering the nation from the sea. The frigates proved to be the platform of choice, and their presence resulted in dozens and dozens of drug seizures worth an estimated street value measured in billions of dollars.
The capabilities of the OHP frigates will now be subsumed by new ships like JHSV, LCS, Mobile Landing Platforms and Afloat Forward Staging Bases deliver the capabilities today’s environment demands.
Image: US Navy