The Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates were designed by the United States Navy in the 1970s as general-purpose escort vessels capable enough to do most jobs adequately, yet inexpensive enough to be bought in quantities sufficient to replace the aging fleet of modernized World War II destroyers which had up to that time been doing the same jobs much less adequately. Although costs escalated dramatically over the production run, all 50 ships planned for the USN were eventually built, plus additional units for and by other nations. Today many Perrys 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. However, some members of the class are expected to remain in USN service for years to come.
Perrys 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 were killed. Partly in response to this incident, the US launched Operation Earnest Will, the reflagging and escorting of oil tankers through the Persian Gulf. Less than a year later, on 14 April 1988, USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) was nearly sunk by an Iranian mine. Fortunately, no lives were lost. The US retaliated a few days later with Operation Praying Mantis, a two-day attack on Iranian facilities then being used as bases for raids on merchant shipping, which included the minelaying operations that damaged Samuel B. Roberts. Both frigates survived the attacks and were eventually returned to service.
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FFG-7 class ships were produced in two variants, known as "short-hull" and "long-hull", with the later variant being ten feet longer than the short-hull version. 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.
US yards constructed FFG-7 class ships for the United States and Australia. Yards in Australia, Spain, and Taiwan have produced variants of the design for their respective navies; production continues in Taiwan. All units built for or in these nations are of the long-hull type. Some surplus USN units have been transferred to the navies of Bahrain, Egypt, Poland, and Turkey, and more will probably follow.