USS Simpson (FFG-56)

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USS Simpson (FFG-56)
Guided missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG-56) during maneuvering exercises in the Atlantic Ocean, (2007).
USS Simpson in April 2007
United States
Namesake: Rear Admiral Rodger W. Simpson
Awarded: 22 March 1982
Builder: Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine
Laid down: 27 February 1984
Launched: 31 August 1984
Sponsored by: Mrs. Grace Fowles-Simpson
Acquired: 13 September 1985
Commissioned: 21 September 1985
Decommissioned: 29 September 2015
Homeport: N.S. Mayport, Florida
  • "Attaquer en Vigueur"
  • ("Attack with Vigor")
Badge: USS Simpson FFG-56 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate
Displacement: 4,100 long tons (4,200 t), full load
Length: 453 ft (138 m)
Beam: 45 feet (14 m)
Draft: 22 feet (6.7 m)
Speed: over 29 knots (54 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nautical miles at 18 knots (9,300 km at 33 km/h)
Complement: 15 officers and 190 enlisted, plus air detachment of roughly six officer pilots and 15 enlisted maintainers
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Aircraft carried: 2 × SH-60B LAMPS III helicopter
Aviation facilities:

USS Simpson (FFG-56) was an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate of the United States Navy, named for Rear Admiral Rodger W. Simpson.


Simpson was laid down at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, on 27 February 1984, launched on 31 August 1984 sponsored by Mrs. Grace Fowles-Simpson[1] widow of Rodger W. Simpson and commissioned on 21 September 1985[2] in Newport, Rhode Island, with Cmdr. H. Wyman Howard Jr. in command. The ship was delivered 13 September 1985. Bath Iron Works plans called for delivery to occur 9 August 1985, but that date slipped due to an extended strike at BIW that began 30 June 1985.[3] Simpson was homeported at Naval Station Newport until switching to Naval Station Norfolk on 31 March 1994. Simpson moved to Naval Station Mayport in July 2001.[4]


On 28 January 1986, the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida, launched space shuttle mission STS-51L utilizing the orbiter vehicle Challenger at 1138 EST. 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 solid rocket booster, however, and 73 seconds after launch a massive explosion destroyed Challenger, killing all seven astronauts on board: Mission Commander and USAF Command Pilot Astronaut, Lt Col Francis R. Scobee, USAF (Ret); Pilot and Naval Aviator CDR Michael J. Smith, USN; USAF Flight Test Engineer Lt Col Ellison S. Onizuka, USAF, and civilians Dr. Judith A. Resnik, Dr. 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.[5]

Beginning January 1988, Simpson's first overseas deployment was to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, to escort reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers during the Iran–Iraq War. On 17 April 1988, Simpson took part in Operation Praying Mantis, the U.S. response to the mining of the frigate Samuel B. Roberts, which had hit an Iranian M-08 mine on 14 April 1988.

On 18 April, Simpson, along with Wainwright and Bagley, destroyed Iranian naval and intelligence facilities on the oil platform Sirri in the Persian Gulf. Later that day, the ships encountered the Iranian Kaman-class (La Combattante IIa type) missile patrol boat Joshan, which launched a Harpoon missile at the US vessels. Simpson immediately returned missile fire, striking Joshan in her superstructure. Joshan was then sunk by combined gunfire. Simpson was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Combat Action Ribbon for this operation, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the deployment.


20 February 1990, Simpson rescued 22 crew members from Surf City, a reflagged Kuwaiti tanker carrying $9 million in naphtha and gas oil. Surf City was transiting near the Iranian island of Abu Musa when it exploded, killing two and forcing the crew to abandon ship. According to Central Command, Simpson was not escorting the tanker, but was monitoring its progress from 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) away and responded immediately to rescue the crew.[6] The fire was so intense that US ships could not approach it and Surf City burned for two weeks. At the time, the fire was feared to be the result of an attack or a mine, but the NTSB later determined it to be an accident.[7]

In March 1992, during Simpson's third deployment, Simpson and Normandy escorted America and two supply ships into the Persian Gulf. At the time, Iraq was refusing to comply with UN weapons inspection and the ships departed the Persian Gulf in early April after inspections resumed.[8][9]

In August 1993 on Simpson's fourth deployment she was again assigned to escort Carrier Group Six with America. During the deployment Simpson participated in Operation Deny Flight and Operation Provide Promise in the Adriatic Sea and supported Operation Continue Hope off Somalia. Simpson returned to homeport in February 1994.[10][11]

In May 1994, Simpson was one of the ships enforcing United Nations sanctions on Haiti.[12]

Simpson deployed to the Caribbean Sea for counter drug operations in late 1994 and again in February 1995.[10]

In November 1995, Simpson deployed to the Mediterranean joining the United States Sixth Fleet NATO's Standing Naval Force Atlantic. Simpson operated in the Adriatic Sea enforcing UN arms embargo against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and participating in Operation Sharp Guard. Simpson returned to Norfolk 8 May 1996.[10]


Simpson arriving in New York Harbor, October 2004 prior to removal of Mk 13 launcher, but after removal of the STIR missile guidance radar.
Simpson and Algerian frigate El Kirch, June 2006, after removal of missile launcher.

Capt. Gerald F. DeConto, Simpson's commanding officer from September 1998 to April 2000, was killed at the Pentagon during the September 11, 2001 attacks.[13]

In July 2002, Simpson responded to Malpelo Island to medevac a wounded Colombian Marine who had received three gunshot wounds.[14]

Simpson deployed with Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 44, Det. 10 as part of NATO's Standing Naval Forces Atlantic on 22 September 2004 returning 20 December 2004. Simpson visited New York City 12 October 2004 during this deployment.[15] Simpson's Mk 13 missile launcher was removed sometime in 2005 prior to her next deployment.

On 3 January 2006, Simpson deployed with HSL-42, Det. 9, joining Standing NRF Maritime Group 1 and participated in a number of international naval exercises in the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Sea returning to Mayport 24 June 2006.[16]

On 5 October 2007, Simpson deployed with HSL-46, Det. 7 and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 405, to the eastern Pacific for counter narcotics operations returning April 2008. During the deployment Simpson captured 16 metric tons of cocaine. On 29 November 2007, Simpson interdicted a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) capable of carrying 5–8 metric tons of cocaine. The sub was sunk by its crew, but the crew was captured and turned over to Colombia.[17][18]


On 17 January 2012, Simpson deployed to the Sixth Fleet Area of Responsibility, participating in Africa Partnership Station 2012, and Operation Active Endeavor. Ports of call included Funchal, Rota, Casablanca, Dakar, Lagos, Accra, Mindelo, Souda Bay, Sicily, Naples and Praia. She returned to Naval Station Mayport on 17 July 2012.

On 18 September 2013, Simpson deployed once more to the United States Sixth Fleet Area of Responsibility. Ports of call included Ponta Delgada, Sicily, Bari, Athens, Valletta, Souda Bay and Casablanca. She returned to Naval Station Mayport on 20 March 2014. Simpson's final homeport was Naval Station Mayport, Florida, with assignment to Destroyer Squadron 14.[17][19] Simpson was part of the Active Naval Reserve Force, Category A from 2002 until her decommissioning in September 2015.[20] She was the final Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in service in the United States Fleet.[21][22] The ship is set to be put up for foreign military sale.[23] When Simpson was decommissioned, it meant the last United States ship still in active service to have sunk an enemy vessel was the 217-year-old USS Constitution.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maritime Quest.
  2. ^ NVR lists commissioning as 20 September 1985 while Ships history page lists 21 September 1985. DoD image captions such as Image:USS Simpson (FFG-56) during commissioning.jpg list 9 November 1985 leading some websites to use that date for commissioning.
  3. ^ BATH IRON STRIKERS TAKING A HARD LINE; John Milne, Globe Staff. Boston Globe. Boston, Mass.: 27 August 1985. pg. 37
  4. ^ Commander, Naval Surface Force, Atlantic. Simpson.
  5. ^ Evans, Mark L. (1 October 2015). "Simpson II (FFG-56)". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  6. ^ Captain and Massachusetts Man Die in Persian Gulf Blast; Mary Curtius, Globe Staff and Tina Cassidy, Contributing Reporter. Boston Globe. Boston, Mass.: 23 February 1990. pg. 2
  7. ^ NTSB. Safety Recommendation M-92-22 through −24. 29 April 1992.
  8. ^ U.S. CARRIER STIRS TENSION IN GULF; MARK THOMPSON – Knight-Ridder News Service. The Oregonian. Portland, Or.: 14 March 1992. pg. A.10
  9. ^ BUSH WITHDRAWS FORCES, CITING IRAQI COMPLIANCE; Stewart M. Powell Hearst News Service. Seattle Post – Intelligencer. Seattle, Wash.: 1 April 1992. pg. a.2
  10. ^ a b c FFG-56. History.
  11. ^ NORFOLK-BASED CARRIER HEADING TO SOMALI COAST. Richmond Times – Dispatch. Richmond, Va.: 28 October 1993. pg. B-4
  12. ^ U.S. Patrol Craft to Tighten Haiti Embargo; Shallow-Draft Vessels Will Try to Intercept Coastal Traffic; Risk to Navy Personnel Rises. Thomas W. Lippman. The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext). Washington, D.C.: 27 May 1994. pg. a.31
  13. ^ Mayport Mirror. Ensign Rebecca L. Rebarich. Honoring Fallen Sailor, Former Simpson CO. 28 October 2004.
  14. ^ US Navy. Simpson Rescues Wounded Colombian Marine. 29 July 2002.
  15. ^ US Navy. USS Simpson Returns From Deployment. 16 December 2004.
  16. ^ Mayport Mirror. USS Simpson Is Back In Town. 29 June 2006.
  17. ^ a b Mayport Mirror. USS Simpson, HSL-46 Detachment 7 Are Back. 9 April 2008.
  18. ^ USS Simpson Completes Successful Counter-narcotics Deployment
  19. ^ "DesRon 14". U.S. Navy. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 
  20. ^ United States Navy Naval Vessel Register. FFG-56.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Hours before decommissioning, USS Simpson crew recall historic naval battle". CNN. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "The Only Ship Left in the US Navy That Has Sunk an Enemy Ship is 217 Years Old". Retrieved 20 October 2015. 

This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here. This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links[edit]