The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) was built to hunt for Soviet submarines and escort merchant convoys if the Cold War became hot. Today, it is operating MQ-8 Fire Scouts and hunting for self-propelled semi-submersibles. The designation as a guided missile frigate is peculiar, since the Simpson hasn’t fielded missiles since 2004 when its Mk 13 missile launcher was removed. It was four SM-1 missiles from that launcher that earned the Simpson a place in the trivia books. During Operation Praying Mantis, the Simpson helped sink the Iranian missile boat Joshan with direct hits from four of its Standard SM-1 missiles. The retirement of the other U.S. Navy ships that helped sink the Joshan leaves the Simpson as one of only two Navy ships remaining that have sunk an enemy ship with guns or missiles. The USS Constitution is the other. That distinction won’t last much longer, as the Simpson‘s Navy service is scheduled to end in approximately 15 months. It is likely that the Simpson will continue to serve in a foreign navy. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class has proved popular with the navies of Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of China, Thailand, and Turkey. The Taiwan Relations Act Affirmation and Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2014 would authorize the transfer of an additional eight Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates to foreign navies. Though not on that list, it’s probably only a matter of time before the Simpson swaps flags.
At an event hosted by the Tampa Navy League, Defense Media Network‘s Steven Hoarn took a tour of the Simpson and caught a look at the end of an era.