In a speech before the Naval War College yesterday, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said that the Navy is looking at “every trick” to grow the fleet more quickly towards the Navy’s goal of 355 ships, including extending the lives of ships already in the fleet and “bringing ships back.” And one of the candidates for a comeback, Richardson said, are the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates. (The Iowa-class battleships, despite political posturing by President Trump during the election campaign, have not yet been mentioned.)
The Perry class ships were the Navy’s equivalent of the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II—workhorse ships that lacked the glamor of larger, more capable commands that performed missions essential to the fleet. They were originally built as guided missile frigates (FFGs), intended to provide a combination of air and antisubmarine defenses for carrier battle groups. The few ships being considered for reactivation were all built in the late 1980s and decommissioned over the past five years. About 10 are held in the Navy’s Inactive Fleet Inventory designated for foreign sale, while the remainder are slotted to be scrapped or sunk as targets.
The Australian Navy has managed to keep three of its original Perry-class frigates (known as the Adelaide class) in service through upgrades to its power plants and other life-extending maintenance. Several other navies still operate former US ships of the class.