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FFG 34 Aubrey Fitch

Aubrey Fitch is the twenty-eighth of the OLIVER HAZARD PERRY Class of guided missile frigates.

Bath Iron Works began building United States Ship Aubrey Fitch (FFG 34) in Bath, Maine, with the laying of the keeL on 10 April 1981. The ship launched on 17 October 1981, and commissioned on 9 October 1982. Following shakedown training, the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey examined the ship. The Final Contract Trial ended with acceptance of Aubrey Fitch for service in the United States Navy.

In preparation for Operation URGENT FURY, Aubrey Fitch assumed tactical control of missile hydrofoils USS TAURUS (PHM 3) and USS AQUILA (PHM 4). The combined FFG-PHM Surface Action Group turned south to participate in follow-on operations to URGENT FURY, the invasion of Grenada. On 22 June 1984, Aubrey Fitch departed Mayport to join Standing Naval Force Atlantic. Port visits during STANAVFORLANT deployment included Rosyth, Scotland; Luebeck Germany; Copenhagen, Denmark; Ashus, Denmark; Ponta Delgada, Azores Islands; Bermuda; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; St. Marten, Netherlands Antilles; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

After a three-month deployment to the Eastern Pacific, Aubrey Fitch participated in the search and rescue effort following the January 1986 explosion of the space shuttle "Challenger." Aubrey Fitch was the first ship to recover several tons of shuttle wreckage. For her actions, Aubrey Fitch was awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device. Later in 1986, Aubrey Fitch received her second Board of Inspection and Survey Inspection, and was lauded as the "Best FFG-7 Class inspected to date." Aubrey Fitch deployed to the Middle East Force in June 1986, and returned in December 1986. Deployment port visits included Port Halifax, Menorca; Bahrain; Karachi, Parkistan; Aqaba, Jordan; and Gilbraltar.

Early in 1987, Aubrey Fitch conducted carrier escort duties, and conducted exercises in many different warfare areas in the Caribbean. Port visits included St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Freeport, Bahamas; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During July 1987, Aubrey Fitch participated in Fleet Exercise 3-87. From August to November, Aubrey Fitch deployed to the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea area, joining exercise OCEAN SAFARI. Port visits included Fredrickstadt, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Aahus, Denmark; Kiel, Germany; Stockholm, Sweden; and Gijon, Spain.

May through June 1988, Aubrey Fitch conducted Refresher Training at Fleet Training Group, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While training, Aubrey Fitch assisted in the rescue of two Navy TA-4J jet pilots, whose aircraft crashed into the sea. Following REFTRA, the ship participated in Fleet Exercise 2-88. Following several Combat Systems and Engineering inspections, Aubrey Fitch deployed with Middle East Force 3-88 in August 1988. Port visits during the deployment included: Ponta Delgada, Azores; Palma De Mallorca, Spain; Doha, Qatar; Bahrain; Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia; Djibouti City, Djibouti; Naples, Italy; and Gibraltar. During this deployment, Aubrey Fitch set a Persian Gulf record, completing more "Earnest Will" escort missions than any other previous ship.

During April and May 1989, Aubrey Fitch conducted Law Enforcement Operations with the Coast Guard, and participated in Operation Solid Shield off the Virginia Capes. In June, Aubrey Fitch received her third inspection from the Board of Inspection and Survey, being cited as "having the best material condition of any ship inspected so far on the East Coast." Later in 1989, Aubrey Fitch deployed to participate in EXERCISE SHARP SPEAR 89, in the North Sea. SHARP SPEAR evaluated NATO's ability to defend North Baltic Sea chokepoints.

Aubrey Fitch kicked off 1990 with a successful Gas Turbine Engineering Material inspection. In December 1990, Aubrey Fitch conducted Counter-Narcotics Operations in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, earning the Meritorious Unit Award.

In June 1991, Aubrey Fitch participated in TCCT/MEFEX 3-91 as flagship for Destroyer Squadron Fourteen. In July, Aubrey Fitch hosted the Soviet guided missile destroyer SIMFEROPOL, during a Mayport visit - the last for a USSR warship to the United States. Aubrey Fitch deployed to the Middle East in August. Joining the Northern Red Sea Maritime Interception Force supporting United Nations' trade sanctions against Iraq, AUBREY FITCH conducted two hundred forty-three merchant ship boardings - a record still unmatched. Aubrey Fitch boarding teams inspected over 3 million tons of cargo, including 22,500 containers, while the embarked SH-2F helicopter flew over 700 hours. Aubrey Fitch served as flagship for Destroyer Squadrons Twenty-Two and Thirty-Six, while they were assigned as Maritime Interception Force Commander. For her service, AUBREY FITCH was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal. Aubrey Fitch departed the Red Sea in December, and visited Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Gilbraltar and the Azores before returning home in February 1992. En route the United States, Aubrey Fitch received a grade of "outstanding" on a short-notice Operational Propulsion Examination, earning high praise for her superb readiness.

Maintenance was the order of the day for much of 1992. Aubrey Fitch completed a four-month docking period in September. In the winter, the ship underwent three weeks of Limited Team Training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and returned home for the holidays. Aubrey Fitch was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" Award for 1992, and won all four Mission Area Excellence Awards. In early 1993, the ship joined Operation ABLE MANNER off the coast of Haiti, and was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon.

The blue colors of the shield on the seal suggest the sky and the sea in allusion to naval aviation. The stars refer to the highest rank achieved by Admiral Aubrey Fitch. The gold area in base refers to a phase of the Battle of the Coral Sea in which Admiral Fitch was the first American Air Admiral to engage the Japanese in the first decisive naval battle in history to be fought entirely by aircraft, without a shot being exchanged by surface ships. This action was decisive in that it halted the enemy's southern conquest; therefore, it is symbolized by a weapon of ancient times which was strewn on the ground to halt the advance of cavalry. The symbol also refers to the other events in the Admiral's distinguished career; he once commanded the USS LANGLEY, the first American aircraft carrier; when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, he took Carrier Division One from the West Coast of the United States and penetrated deep into enemy waters.

The shape of the waves on the crest was suggested by the design of the Distinguished Service Medal which was awarded twice to Admiral Fitch during his career. The winged trident and open book refer to his appointment as the first naval airman as Superintendent of the Naval Academy, and the propeller is placed on the book to denote he was instrumental in the establishment of the Department of Aeronautics during his administration. The propeller also refers to the Army Distinguished Flying Cross awarded to Admiral Fitch. The gold cross patonce represents the appointment as Honorary Knight in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, one of the many foreign decorations with which Admiral Fitch was honored.

Aubrey Wray Fitch

Admiral Aubrey Wray Fitch, United States Navy (1883 - 1978), was an aviation hero of World War II, former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air, and Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy.

During the World War II Battle of Coral Sea, Admiral Fitch, then a Rear Admiral, commanded the American planes in the first naval battle in history entirely fought by aircraft, in which no ship on either side sighted the other. As Air Task Force Commander under Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, Task Force Commander, his aircraft from the carriers USS LEXINGTON (AVT 16) (his flagship) and USS YORKTOWN (CG 48), checked the Japanese advance during the 7 - 9 May 1942 battle. His aircraft sank one carrier, damaged two others, and destroyed or severely damaged 195 aircraft. On the U.S. side, LEXINGTON, along with two support ships, was lost, and YORKTOWN was damaged. Since this battle stopped the Japanese southern conquests, it was a strategic American victory. The victory came the day after the surrender of Corregidor in the Philippines. From that low point, Coral Sea represented the turn of the tide.

Aubrey Fitch was born of British parents in St. Ignace, Michigan on 11 June 1883. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy from which he graduated in 1906. Following duty on board various ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, Aubrey Fitch became the Aide to the Commander-In-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in 1914. Later he served as Gunnery Officer on USS WYOMING, operating with the Sixth Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet during World War I.

After serving from 1922 to 1927 as a member of the U.S. Mission to Brazil, and later as Executive Officer of the USS NEVADA, he took naval aviation training, Pensacola, Florida, and was designated a Naval Aviator. He assumed command of USS LANGLEY, the first American aircraft carrier, and later took command of LEXINGTON. After promotion to Rear Admiral in 1940, he reported as Commander Carrier Division One, with his flag on USS SARATOGA (CV 60).

When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Admiral Fitch took Carrier Division One from the West Coast of the United States and penetrated deep into enemy waters beyond Midway and Wake Islands in search of the Japanese. After various operations in the Pacific in the early stages of the war, he was appointed Commander Air Task Force Pacific and transferred his flag to LEXINGTON, where he remained until LEXINGTON was sunk during the Battle of Coral Sea. At the time of the Battle of Midway, one month later, he commanded a task force, with SARATOGA as flagship, operating in the North Pacific, but his ships arrived too late to participate in the engagement.

After promotion to Vice Admiral, he was selected as Commander Aircraft, South Pacific Fleet, under Admiral William E. Halsey, where he was in command of all shore-based Army, Navy, Marine and New Zealand aircraft during the Guadalcanal Campaign and the recapture of the Solomon Islands, the first American offensive campaigns of the Pacific War.



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