The USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) was a small warship built for escort duty much like its namesake vessel, one of the “tin can” heroes of Leyte Gulf. But its commanding officer imbued his brand-new crew with their forebears’ fighting spirit, and when the guided missile frigate was thrust into the Persian Gulf at the height of the Iran-Iraq War, there was no better ship for the job.
For two months, captain and crew sailed a gulf aflame, escorting tankers in the largest convoy operation since World War II. Forbidden to fire unless fired upon, they relied on wit and nerve to face down fighter jets and warships bent on the destruction of civilian ships. The sternest test of the frigate’s crew came on 14 April 1988, when an Iranian mine ripped open its engine room, ignited fires on four decks, and plunged the ship into darkness. With seawater rising around their boots, the sailors fought flames and flooding into the night.
The ship’s bravery and cool competence have become part of Navy lore and a staple of naval leadership courses. No U.S. warship since the Korean War has come closer to sinking in hostile action. The mining provoked the biggest surface-ship battle in decades, helped to end a war, and set the stage for conflicts to come.
No Higher Honor was recently brought back into print by the US Naval Institute Press (JAN 2013) and the CNO Professional Reading is proud to feature it as a “Title of Interest.” This engaging story offers pearls of wisdom for all three of the CNO’s tenets: Warfighting First, Be Ready and Operate Forward. Journalist Bradley Peniston draws on hundreds of documents and interviews to present this outstanding book about the Roberts’ heroic actions.