USS Thach (FFG-43)

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Thach in the Persian Gulf, 2003
USS Thach in the Persian Gulf, 2003
United States
Name: Thach
Namesake: Admiral John Thach
Awarded: 27 April 1979
Builder: Todd Pacific Shipyards, Los Angeles Division, San Pedro, California
Laid down: 6 March 1981
Launched: 18 December 1982
Sponsored by: Mrs. Madalyn J. Thach
Commissioned: 17 March 1983
Decommissioned: 1 November 2013
Struck: 15 November 2013
Homeport: Naval Base San Diego
Motto: "Ready and Able"
Fate: Sunk as part of a sinking exercise on 14 July 2016 during RIMPAC 2016.
Badge: USS Thach FFG-43 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate
Displacement: 4,100 long tons (4,200 t), full load
Length: 453 feet (138 m), overall
Beam: 45 feet (14 m)
Draft: 22 feet (6.7 m)
Speed: over 29 knots (54 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nautical miles at 18 knots (9,300 km at 33 km/h)
Complement: 15 officers and 190 enlisted, plus SH-60 LAMPS detachment of roughly six officer pilots and 15 enlisted maintainers
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Aircraft carried: 2 × SH-60 LAMPS III helicopters
Aviation facilities:

USS Thach (FFG-43), an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Admiral John Thach, a Naval Aviator during World War II, who invented the Thach Weave dogfighting tactic.

Construction and design[edit]

Thach was laid down on 6 March 1981 by the Todd Pacific Shipyards, Los Angeles Division, San Pedro, California; launched on 18 December 1982; sponsored by Mrs. Madalyn J. Thach, widow of the namesake; and commissioned on 17 March 1984 at Long Beach, Cmdr. Dale H. Moses in command.[2][3]

Thach's mission was to provide anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine protection for carrier battle groups, naval expeditionary forces, replenishment groups, convoys, and other military and merchant shipping. The new direction for the naval service remained focused on the ability to project power from the sea in the critical littoral regions for the world.[4]

Success in the warfare environment of the 1990s and beyond required thorough evaluation, rapid decision-making and almost instantaneous response to any postulated threat. The systems aboard Thach were designed to meet these demanding and dynamic prerequisites, and to do so with minimum human interface. The Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk's video data link system brought state-of-the-art computer technology to the warfare arena, as well as integrating sensors and weapons to provide a total offensive and defensive weapons system.[4]

In addition, computers controlled and monitored the gas turbine engines (the same engines installed on DC-10 aircraft) and electrical generators. Digital electronic logic circuits and remotely operated valves were monitored in Central Control Station which initiated engine start and resulted in a "ready to go" status in less than ten minutes.[4]

Service history[edit]

In 1986, the ship, part of Destroyer Squadron 21, deployed to the Western Pacific as part of a battleship battle group led by New Jersey.[5]

Thach was the command ship of Operation Nimble Archer, the 19 October 1987 attack on two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf by United States Navy forces. The attack was a response to Iran's missile attack three days earlier on MV Sea Isle City, a reflagged Kuwaiti oil tanker at anchor off Kuwait. The action occurred during Operation Earnest Will, the effort to protect Kuwaiti shipping amid the Iran–Iraq War.

In late 2006 while deployed to the Southern Pacific, Thach caught fire as she attempted to put out a fire on a drug smuggling ship.[citation needed]

Cmdr. Steven R. Rasmussen, a 1988 graduate of the Naval Academy who took command of the ship 6 October 2006, was relieved of command on 28 February 2008 by the commander of Destroyer Squadron 7.[6]


Thach was decommissioned at Naval Base San Diego on 1 November 2013, Cmdr. Hans E. Lynch in command. The ship was homeported in San Diego and was part of Destroyer Squadron 23.[7] She was sunk on July, 14, 2016 during the major naval exercise RIMPAC 2016.[8] The hulk was sunk fifty-five miles north off the coast of Kauai. Despite being hit by at least four Harpoon missiles, bombs, Hellfire missiles and a torpedo it took twelve hours to sink.[9]


Like all heraldic Navy insignias, Thach's crest has special meaning. The blue and gold colors are traditionally associated with the Navy; blue for the sea and gold for excellence. The pair of wings in the upper crest refers to Admiral Thach’s contributions to naval aviation as a pilot and leader. One of the contributions to naval aviation as a pilot and leader was his invention of the "Thach Weave," symbolized by the interlaced silver chevrons. This two-plane fighter tactic, used to cover each other from enemy fighters, is still used by fighter aircraft today.[4]

The three-pronged trident is shown pointing down from the sky, symbolizing naval aviation’s role of projecting power from the sky and the sea. The three tines of the trident also represent Fight Squadron Three, the unit Admiral Thach commanded during early Pacific carrier battles in World War II. The cross within its outlined border and the wreath refer to Admiral Thach’s first and second awards of the Navy Cross and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.[4]

The anchor in the center of the insignia focused attention on the nautical nature of both Admiral Thach’s service to his country. The ship’s motto, “Ready and Able,” was representative of Admiral Thach’s preparation and success.[4]



  1. ^ a b c "FFG-7 Class". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Naval Vessel Historical Evaluation USS Thach" (PDF). NAVSEA. 24 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Thach Ship History" (PDF). 1984.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "USS Thach". US Navy. 2014. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Thach (FFG 43)". 9 April 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  6. ^ Fuentes, Gidget (29 February 2008). "Thach skipper fired for loss of confidence". Navy Times.
  7. ^ Ryan, MCSC (SW/AW) Donnie W. "USS Thach Decommissioned After 29 years of service". Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
  8. ^ D'Angelo, Chris (28 June 2016). "26 Countries Gather In Hawaii For Massive War Game". MSN. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  9. ^ Chrisite, Joel (19 July 2016). "The ship that would not die". Daily Mail. Retrieved 20 July 2016.

External links[edit]