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Serving on a frigate (was: RE: SML Absorbers)

From: "Okay, new day. Time to be happy. (- cat)" <KOCHTE@s...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 09:21:57 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Serving on a frigate (was: RE: SML Absorbers)

Serving on a Frigate (or other escort-type ships):

I had the opportunity this past weekend to speak to my brother (who is
in the
Navy, stationed in Annapolis, and used to serve on frigates, most
the FFG 58 "Samual B Roberts") about life on frigate vessels (I get a
of valuable info on wet navy life from these conversations :). The
sation was prompted by a recent post on here in which someone said that
peacetime lots of Navy people flock to frigates for service, but in
NO one in their right mind would want to even be anywhere NEAR frigates
(much less ON one). My brother says differently.

Frigates (and their larger brothers/sisters, destroyers) are Combatant
They are designed for multi-role capabilities, and their roles/respon-
sibilities are multi-fold. If you want to see action, you want to be on
frigate. And if you want to advance in the ranks, frigates are where you
want to be (partly because there are fewer people per job for you to
against for rank advancement [unlike on cruisers and carriers], and
because rank advancement comes more from being in combat rather than
in the back - like cruisers and carriers do). And one of the roles that
frigates and destroyers perform is...missile sponge for the carriers
that frigates in our wet navy are far better equipped to defend
- AND survive hits* - than those in the FT universe; don't make the
of comparing FT directly with wet navy; they have similarities, use
patterns, but you can't draw direct correlations). Anyway...

The conversation went on about captaincies of escort-sized ships and
capital-sized ships, examples on how people can win it big or lose it
hard in the rank advancement ladders on escort-sized ships (eg,
went on a tangent about the number of duties/roles the "Roberts" had
taken during my brother's tour on her (see also Tom Anderson's earlier
about other duties of escort ships), but ultimately came back to the
whether or not people would willingly serve on a frigate or destroyer
hostilities (war time), knowing they were playing missile sponge for the
carriers (who are far, far, FAR away from the hot zones). The answer is
Navy personnel would flock to the frigates, because they would be
engaged in combat, involved in the action, and would proudly take that
missile for the carrier (note also that frigates are more survivable to
missile hits than FT escorts**). The reality is the frigates still have
realistic chance of surviving combat, even in war time. So taking a
doesn't necessarily mean the ship go boom.

Finally, the conversation went to 'where the Navy is going now'. Since
Soviet Threat from the 70s/80s has now gone away, there is no one which
threatens the US Navy. And unless the Chinese or India (the only other
powers out there with relatively large navies) decide to get a wild hair
their butts about the US, there are no other threats for the US to
a large naval force. So the US Navy is beginning to decommission large
of frigates (and other ships; see also the Navy home page: 
leap immediately to the decommissioned ship page:  ), and
moving to an amphibious fleet. What my brother said above about rank
ment in combat applies here. We aren't in need of combat ships, so the
of Navy operations is now going to be amphibious in nature, and it will
be the
amphibs which get sent in to the hot zones (he wasn't saying that the
would totally get rid of combatant vessels, just that there wouldn't be
as many as there had been, and the operational emphasis is changing).
(so the
comparisons between FT and current wet navies are going to draw further

Anyway, for what it's worth.


* for those of you who don't know or aren't up on your Naval History, on
April 4, 1988, the "Samuel B Roberts" was cracked open by a mine
to take out carriers. The "Roberts"'s back was broken, but the crew
her together and limped her into port where repairs were immediately set
underway. 2 years later she was back in the Mediterranean where she was
immediately challenged by 5 seperate countries who wanted to know what
arrogance was it of this US frigate to be flying the flag of the
(when it was "well-known" that the mine removed the Roberts from service
permenantly). The captain of the "Roberts" merely replied: "We're back."

** The frigate FFG 31 "Stark" returned to service after sustaining heavy
damage from two Exocet missiles back in '87 (one did not explode; 7
were killed in the incident). She was repaired and sent back out into
theater of action as a notice to belligerents to say no one was going to
kick the US Navy out of where ever they were going to be (said
is from my brother, who is Navy, recall ;-)  but it works for me)

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