By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement today after Navy Secretary Ray Mabus replied to Sessions’ letter requesting the availability of a naval vessel for the City’s upcoming Mardi Gras events:
Sen. Sessions said in a written statement on Monday, “I am thrilled that, after receiving my letter, Secretary Mabus has notified me that the Navy will be able send a ship to Mobile for Mardi Gras. The Samuel B. Roberts is a great fighting ship in the best tradition of the Navy, and we will eagerly welcome her crew to our shores to join in some of the week’s activities. The presence of the Navy in Mobile has been one of the highlights of the Mardi Gras season.”
There had been some concern about whether a ship would be available to attend during Mardi Gras. Senator Sessions sent a letter to Secretary Mabus asking if a ship would be available.
The Samuel B. Roberts is an Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigate. FFG-58 was launched in December 1984 by Bath Iron Works (BIW). The Samuel B. Roberts has had numerous deployments in its career including a famous naval mine strike while escorting Kuwaiti tankers during the Iran/Iraq War in the 1980s. The Iranian mines blew a 15 foot hole in the ship, broke the keel of the ship. and flooded the engine room, knocking both gas turbine engines out of action. Despite the loss of the main engines, enormous structural damage, fires, and flooding the crew was able to both save the ship and keep the ship under power using the auxiliary thrusters to transit the mine field at 5 knots while maintaining combat capability. Ten sailors had to be evacuated for their injuries. Divers later found several unexploded mines still attached to the ship’s hull.
President Ronald Reagan (R) responded to the attack with Operation Praying Mantis. US Marine and Naval forces sunk one Iranian frigate, badly damaged another Iranian frigate, sank at least three high speed attack boats, and destroyed two Iranian oil platforms being used by the Iranian Navy. The damage to the ship was so severe that a new engine room was built, the old engine room was cut out of the ship, and the new engine room was then lifted into place in the Samuel B. Roberts.
FFG-58 is the third Samuel B. Roberts in the Navy. The first was a World War II Destroyer Escort named for a sailor killed at Guadalacanal.
Sen. Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.