Like its World War II namesake of Leyte Gulf fame, USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) was a small combatant built for escort duty. But its skipper imbued his brand-new crew with a fighting spirit to match their forebears, and in 1988 when the guided missile frigate was thrust into the Persian Gulf at the height of the Iran-Iraq War, there was no better ship for the job. Forbidden to fire unless fired upon, Captain Paul Rinn and his crew sailed amid the chaos in the Gulf for two months, relying on wit and nerve to face down fighter jets and warships bent on the destruction of civilian vessels. Their sternest test came when an Iranian mine ripped open the ship's engine room, ignited fires on four decks, and plunged the ship into darkness. The crew's bravery and cool competence was credited with keeping the ship afloat, and its actions have become part of Navy lore and a staple of naval leadership courses ever since.
This is the first book to record the Roberts' extraordinary tale. After years of research and interviews with crewmembers, journalist Bradley Peniston chronicles the crew's heroic efforts to save the ship as they fought flames and flooding well into the night. The author also describes the frigate's origins, its operational history, and the crew's training. Peniston's personal approach to the subject not only breathes life into the historical narrative but gives readers an opportunity to get to know the individuals involved and understand the U.S. retaliation to the mining and the battle that evolved, setting the stage for conflicts to come.
Bradley Peniston is managing editor of the weekly newspaper Defense News. He has covered the U.S. military in more than a dozen countries and spent time aboard more than fifty warships. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Moscow Times, Naval Institute Proceedings, and elsewhere. He is also the author of Around the World with the U.S. Navy.