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USS Stark (FFG-31)

The USS Stark (FFG-31) was a short hulled Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate of the US Navy. She was laid down in August 1979 and commissioned on October 23, 1982 with the homeport of Mayport, Florida. She was named after Admiral Harold Rainsford Stark.

The Stark was deployed to the Middle East Force in 1984 and 1987. She is remembered for the incident of May 17, 1987 when she was struck by two missiles from an Iraqi Mirage fighter during the Iran-Iraq War. The fighter had taken off from Shaibah at 20.00 and had flown south into the Persian Gulf. Shortly after being routinely challenged by the frigate at around 22.10 the fighter fired two Exocet ASM missiles. The frigate did not detect the missile attack and both missiles struck without warning. The first hit the port-side hull and left a three metre by four metre gash when it exploded in crew quarters; the second missile hit the superstructure of the frigate. Thirty-seven crew were killed and twenty-one were injured. The frigate was afire but this was brought under control during the night and the ship returned to Bahrain under her own power. $142 million was spent repairing the vessel.

The Stark was part of the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic Fleet in 1990 before returning to the Middle East Force in 1991. She was attached to UNITAS in 1993 and took part in Operation Support Democracy and Operation Able Vigil in 1994. In 1995 she again returned to the Middle East Force before serving in the Atlantic again in 1997 and in 1998. The Stark was decommissioned on May 7, 1999 and transferred to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia for disposal.