FFG 57 Reuben James
The third REUBEN JAMES (FFG-57) is one of the newest of Perry Class guided missile fast frigates. The crew totals 160 enlisted, 17 chief petty officers and 20 officers. Her keel was laid on 19 November 1983 at Todd Shipyard, San Pedro, California, and she was launched on 8 February 1985. FFG-57 was commissioned on 22 March 1986.
She is capable of 30+ knots and is powered by two gas turbine engines similar to those found on DC-9 aircraft. Armed with anti-air and anti-ship missiles, an automated three inch gun, an anti-missile defense system, and two anti-submarine helicopters, REUBEN JAMES is a formidable opponent and is well suited to hunt submarines, as well as performing duties for battle group escort and maritime interception.
After spending three months away, USS Reuben James returned to her homeport at Pearl Harbor April 23, 2004. More than 200 officers and Sailors sailed with Reuben James as she deployed to the eastern Pacific Ocean to monitor, detect and counter drug activities. During the deployment, the crew aboard Reuben James rescued 149 Ecuadorian men, women and children from the sinking motor vessel (MV) Margyl Margarita March 30, returning them safely to Ecuador. An SH-60B helicopter from the Kaneohe-based Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37, Det. 4 was also embarked aboard Reuben James.
Reuben James was born in Delaware, Ohio about 1776. He joined the U.S. Navy and served on various ships, including the frigate USS CONSTELLATION. It was during the infamous Barbary Wars that the American frigate PHILADELPHIA was captured by the Barbary pirates. Having run aground in the pirate capital of Tripoli on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the crew had to abandon ship and formulate a plan of attack. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, along with a group of volunteers which included Boatswain's Mate Reuben James, entered Tripoli harbor under the cover of darkness in an attempt to set the PHILADELPHIA to the torch so that the pirates could not make use of her.
The American volunteers boarded the PHILADELPHIA on 16 February 1804 and were met by a group of the savage Barbary pirates who were guarding their prize. A furious battle ensued, and during the bloody chaos of hand-to-hand combat, a villainous pirate made ready to end the life of Lieutenant Decatur. Reuben James, with both of his hands already wounded, in an act of selfless dedication and courage did throw his hand before the pirate's cleaving blade! Willing to give his life in defense of his captain, Reuben James took the blow from the sword!
Having proved to the world over the courage and dedication of United States Sailors, Reuben James also hammered home the fact that US Sailors are undefeatable by not only surviving, but recovering from his wounds and continuing his career in the U.S. Navy! After spending many more years with Decatur, James was forced to retire in January 1836 because of declining health brought on because of past wounds. He died on 3 December 1838 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C.
The first REUBEN JAMES (DD-245) was laid down on 2 April 1919, launched on 4 October 1919, and commissioned on 24 September 1920 with Commander Gordon W. Hines in command. DD-245 was a post-World War I four stack destroyer with a crew of 101, capable of 35 knots, and a main armament of four 4 inch guns, a single 3 inch gun, and twelve 21 inch torpedo tubes.
Assigned to the Atlantic fleet, REUBEN JAMES saw duty in the Mediterranean from 1921 to 1922. Based in New York, she patrolled the Nicaraguan coast to prevent the delivery of weapons to revolutionariesin early 1926. DD-245 was decommissioned in Philadelphia on 20 January 1931.
Recommissioned on 9 March 1932, the ship again operated in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, patrolling Cuban waters during the Cuban revolution. It transferred to San Diego, California in 1934. Following maneuvers which helped evaluate the development of aircraft carriers, REUBEN JAMES returned to the Atlantic Fleet in January 1939. Upon the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, she joined the Neutrality Patrol, and guarded the Atlantic and Caribbean approaches the American Coast.
In March 1941, REUBEN JAMES joined the convoy escort force established to promote the safe arrival of war material to Britain. This escort force guarded convoys as far as Iceland, where they became responsibility of British escorts. Based at Hvalfjordur, Iceland, she sailed from Argentia, Newfoundland, 23 October 1941, with four other destroyers to escort eastbound convoy HX-156. The ship had postured herself between an ammunition ship in the convoy and the known position of a German U-Boat Wolfpack.
While escorting that convoy at about 0525, 31 October 1941, REUBEN JAMES was torpedoed by German submarine U-562. Her magazine exploded and the ship sank quickly. REUBEN JAMES was the first U.S. Navy ship sunk by hostile action in World War II.
Only 44 men of the 144 man crew survived.
The second REUBEN JAMES (DE-153) was laid down on 7 September 1942, launched on 6 February 1943, and commissioned on 1 April 1943, with Lieutenant Commander Frank D. Giambattista in command. DE-153 was a Buckley Class destroyer escort with a crew of 213, capable of 23.5 knots, and equiped with a main armament of two 5 inch guns, three 3 inch guns, and three 21 inch torpedo tubes.
First based in Miami, Florida, DE-153 conducted anti-submarine patrols and provided training in convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare. In March, 1944, she shifted homeport from Miami to Norfolk, Virginia. In June 1944, she escorted a convoy from New York to Norfolk. Between 13 July and 7 November 1944, REUBEN JAMES successfully escorted two convoys to the Mediterranean, returning with westbound convoys. During the ships first eastbound voyage, nine German bombers attacked its convoy off Algeria on 1 August 1944. REUBEN JAMES shot down one enemy bomber.
Returning to Boston on 7 November 1994, she joined an anti-submarine group operation in the North Atlantic. Operating south of Newfoundland, REUBEN JAMES was present when the USS BUCKLEY (DE-51) sank German submarine U-879 on 19 April 1945.
Arriving at Houston, Texas on 4 July 1945 REUBEN JAMES completed conversion to a radar picket ship on 25 November 1945 and was subsequently employed in the Atlantic and the Caribbean while being stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. DE-153 was decommissioned on 11 October 1947
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