The last Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate in the United States Navy, USS Simpson (FFG-56), was decommissioned at Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Florida. Commissioned on 21 September 1985, Simpson had just passed 30 years of service only days before.
For Simpson, the good news is that she is to be transferred to a foreign Navy after being towed to Philadelphia.
Simpson’s decommissioning marks the end of the Perry class, their role to be filled now by the Littoral Combat Ships (“LCS”). Named for Rear Admiral Roger W Simpson, who served with honour in World Wars I and II, Simpson was the last modern US Navy warship to sink an enemy vessel in action. In fact, of the 272 ships in the US Navy fleet today, only the wooden-hulled, three-masted USS Constitution which sank British vessels in the War of 1812 can also make that claim.
In 1988 in the Persian Gulf, Simpson sank an Iranian gunboat, Joshan, during a battle that was the only US Navy surface battle since World War II. Joshan had fired a Harpoon missile at Simpson, the cruiser USS Wainwright (CG-28) and the Knox class frigate USS Bagley (FF-1069). Simpson responded with a Standard missile fired while the Harpoon – which missed – was still in the air in what was the only ship-to-ship missile duel in US Navy history, with opposing missiles in the air simultaneously.