The Oliver Hazard Perry class of frigates were designed by the U.S. Navy in the 1970s as general-purpose escort vessels capable enough to do most jobs adequately, yet cheap enough to be bought in large quantities. They replaced upgraded yet aging World War II-era destroyers, which had up to that time been doing the same jobs much less adequately.
They are named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
FFG-7 class ships were produced in 445 foot (136 m) "short-hull" and 455 foot (139 m) "long-hull" variants. The long-hull ships (FFG 8, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36-61) carry the SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters, while the short-hull units carry the less-capable SH-2 Seasprite. FFG 8, 29, 32, and 33 were built as short-hull ships but later modified into long-hull ships.
U.S. yards constructed FFG-7 class ships for the United States and Australia. Early U.S.-built Australian ships were originally of the short-hull type and modified in the 1980s to the long-hull standard. Yards in Australia, Spain, and Taiwan have produced variants of the long-hull design for their navies; production continues in Taiwan.
Although costs escalated dramatically over the production run, all 50 ships planned for the USN were eventually built. Although some Perry-class vessels are slated to remain in U.S. service for years, many others are being decommissioned and transferred to other navies, where they are often replacing modernized World War II destroyers again - the same ex-US destroyers transferred abroad in the 1970s and 1980s. Some surplus USN units have been transferred to the navies of Bahrain, Egypt, Poland, and Turkey, and more will probably follow.
Baptism of fire
Perry-class frigates made the news twice during the 1980s. The Persian Gulf was a dangerous place to be during the Iran-Iraq War, and on 17 May 1987, USS Stark (FFG-31) was attacked, apparently accidentally, by an Iraqi warplane. Thirty-seven American sailors died in the deadly prelude to the U.S.'s Operation Earnest Will, the reflagging and escorting of oil tankers through the Persian Gulf. Less than a year later, on 14 April 1988, the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) was nearly sunk by an Iranian mine. No lives were lost, but 10 sailors were medevaced from the ship. The U.S. retaliated four days later with Operation Praying Mantis, a one-day attack on Iranian oil platforms being used as bases for raids on merchant shipping, which included the minelaying operations that damaged the Roberts. Both frigates were repaired in U.S. yards and returned to service.
- Type: Frigate
- Displacement: ca. 4,000 tons
- Dimensions: 408 ft waterline, 445 ft (136 m) overall, 455 ft (139 m) for "long-hull" units. 45 ft (13.7 m) beam. 22 ft (6.7 m) draft
- 1 or 2 × anti-ship and -sub helicopters (the SH-2 Seasprite on short-hulls, the SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III on long-hulls)
- 1 × single-arm Mark 13 guided missile launcher with a 40-round magazine that can handle SM-1MR anti-air/ship missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Removed from U.S. ships starting in 2003, due to retirement of the SM-1 missile
- 2 × triple Mark 32 ASW torpedo tubes with Mark 46 or Mark 50 anti-submarine torpedoes
- 1 × OTO Melara 76 mm naval gun
- 1 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS
- 8 × Hsiung Feng II SSM (Taiwanese units only)
- Propulsion: 2 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines; 1 shaft; 41,000 shaft horsepower (31 MW)
- Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h)
Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates
- Santa Maria (F81)
- Victoria (F82)
- Numancia (F83)
- Reina Sofia (F84)
- Navarra (F85)
- Canarias (F86)
- Cheung Kung (1101)
- Cheng Ho (1103)
- Chi Kuang (1105)
- Yueh Fei (1106)
- Tzu I (1107)
- Pan Chao (1108)
- Chang Chien (1109)
- Tian Dan (1110) (under construction)