The ex-USS Thach gave three decades of service to the country and stood up to tremendous punishment last week on her last cruise: a Sinking Exercise.
Commissioned in 1982, Thach was an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate who sailed far and wide with the Navy until her name was stricken from the Navy List in November 2013. While some of her sisterships have been transferred to serve in allied fleets, the Navy had another idea in mind for Thatch. Stripping her of combustibles, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transformers and large capacitors, trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials, readily detachable solid PCB items and useful items such as her 20mm Phalanx CIWS, she was ready for her final mission.
She was then towed her to waters 15,000 feet deep, 55 nautical miles north of Kauai, Hawaii where she was used as part of a SINKEX last week during the annual Rim of the Pacific exercise.
The above video documents her final moments, taking hits from Harpoon anti-ship missiles launched from allied P-3 Orions and the cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) before taking torpedo hits from a submarine at periscope depth.
By the end of the footage you see the 453-foot long frigate’s aft helicopter deck buckled, a torpedo hole shot through her bow, missile strikes in her superstructure, and terrific damage throughout. Her final dive to Poseidon’s docks was not captured.
It should be noted that two of her sisters, the USS Samuel B. Roberts and USS Stark both withstood terrific damage from a floating sea mine and surface to air missiles respectively in the Persian Gulf during the 1980s.
“This SINKEX was a tremendous event for all the units who participated. As you can imagine, the opportunity to fire live ordnance at a real target is incredibly rare and I know that these men and women learned so much today,” said Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Scott Bishop, deputy commander of the RIMPAC Combined Task Force. “This kind of training is vital to strengthening our interoperability and increasing our readiness for operations in the future.”
Surveys are conducted to ensure marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event and range control was established to keep passing civilian ships and aircraft away from the exercise area.