Time Frame: Mine holes USS Samuel B Roberts in Arabian Gulf

The 1980s were a tumultuous decade in the Middle East, with the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) in particular inflaming tensions and leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

The international community was also involved. One of these interventions was Operation Earnest Will – a United States attempt from 1987 to 1988 to protect Kuwaiti-owned tankers from Iranian attacks in the Arabian Gulf.

In this photograph, from April 15, 1988, we can see the crippled USS Samuel B Roberts being towed to shore by a Kuwaiti minesweeper. The US frigate struck an Iranian mine on April 14 in the central Arabian Gulf.

The explosion blew a huge hole in the side of the ship and it was towed to Dubai and then to Maine, on the US eastern seaboard, for repairs. The US retaliated with the fierce one-day Operation Praying Mantis on April 18. Marines, ships and aircraft destroyed Iranian oil platforms and a frigate.

The USS Samuel B Roberts, meanwhile, returned to service in 1989 and was deployed in Operation Desert Storm to assist in expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

* John Dennehy

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