FFG-7 OLIVER HAZARD PERRY-class Program Status
Originally to be 75 in number, a total of 55 FFG-7 OLIVER HAZARD PERRY-class ships were built, including 51 for the US Navy and four for the Royal Australian Navy. Australia subsequently built a further ship of this design at a very high cost. Spain also built to this design and a modified design was built in Taiwan (the Cheng Kung Class).
Of the 51 ships built for the US Navy, 28 are in active commissioned service and 2 are in the Naval Reserve Force (NRF). The "short-hull" Perry-class frigates were retired at an advanced rate, even though they had 20 years left on their life. The Navy had hoped to phase out construction of this class with the FY 83 ships, FFG 59 and 60, but Congress authorized (but did not fully fund) FFG 61 in FY 84.
The Navy's fleet of PERRY-class FFG 7 frigates will remain in the fleet well into the second decade of the 21st century. The most capable FFG-7s will be retained the longest. The FFG-7 force was transformed into an all SH-60 helicopter capable force by FY'03. The primary mission of the ships will remain antisubmarine warfare and escort.
The Naval Reserve operated two Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7)-class frigates, down from the ten operated in the 1990s. This number included the four Reserve frigates of DESRON ONE based in San Diego. The number of Reserve frigates in DESRON ONE declined from five to four as of 01 September 2000, when the USS John A Moore (FFG-19) was disposed of through the Security Assistance Program (SAP). Atlantic Fleet ships include: USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG-13) based at Mayport with DESRON 6; USS Estocin (FFG-15) based at Norfolk with DESRON 14; USS Boone (FFG-28) based at Mayport with DESRON 6; USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG-29) based at Pascagoula with DESRON 6. These ships maintain full readiness status and deploy with their Active Component counterparts when needed. One of their primary missions, which they fulfill simply by being available, is to make it possible for the Active Component to maintain its operating tempo at acceptable levels. Incidences of Reserve ships playing a part in what used to be exclusively Active force mission areas are becoming common. Perry-class frigates have been responsible for 16.3 percent of Navy steaming days in support of counter-narcotics operations and will continue to relieve the operational and personnel tempo of Active combatants by assuming more forward presence deployments. By the year 2000, seven of the FFG 7s in the NRF were modernized to Flight III baselines. These ships fulfill an important role in reducing the Active force's operational and personnel tempo by responding to contingencies such as the Haitian embargo, counter-narcotics operations, and overseas deployments.
In 1996 one FFG 7 supported Baltic Sea operations, two served in the Western Pacific for Carat 96, and three others patroled the Caribbean in counter-narcotics operations. One Reserve FFG (USS Wadsworth) to deploy in support of Carat 97, one FFG (USS Estocin) participated in BALTOPS 97.
Although Naval Reserve FFGs were reduced from 10 ships to 8 by FY 2000, the remaining ships will have much greater capability as all Flight I NRF FFGs will be replaced by the much more capable Flight III's. Congressional adds to the Navy's FY 1999 procurement programs provided $5.5 million for an upgrade of one Reserve FFG radar system. Reserve FFGs comprise about a third of the Western Hemisphere Group whose primary mission is to support counter drug operations in the Caribbean.
FFG-56 USS Simpson was directed to shift homeports from Norfolks VA to Mayport FL as of July 2001. This change in homeports involved an administrative transfer from COMDESRON TWO TWO to COMDESRON SIX as of March 2001.
As of early 2002 the Navy planned to decommission its five remaining "Flight I" (non-SH-60 capable) Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates by FY 2004.
The Naval Reserve Force (NRF) transitioned all Flight I class Guided Missile Frigate to Flight IIIs. The Naval Reserve Force replaced all Flight I class Guided Missile Frigates (FFG) with Flight III class (H-60 capable) FFGs by FY 2003. The SH-2G, a primary weapons system of Flight I class FFGs, retired from service in FY 2001. This left several NRF Flight I FFGs without the capability to conduct their full range of missions. These ships were assigned missions that did not require the use of their full aviation capabilities. NRF ships regularly deploy to support Navy's operational requirements and relieve the operational tempo of Active ships. In FY 1999, 43 percent of NRF ships deployed for four to six months in support of US maritime interests.
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