Operation Earnest Will
Iraq attacked Iran in September 1980,
launching a war that would last eight years. By 1982, more than
100,000 people had died. The war was costing each side $1 billion a
month and devastated both countries' oil industries. In the
so-called "tanker war", both belligerents launched attacks on
neutral merchant vessels transiting the Gulf, prompting several Gulf
states to seek protection from foreign navies. . . .
More history at this link.
Operation Praying Mantis
On 14 April 1988, watchstanders aboard USS Samuel
B. Roberts (FFG 58) sighted three mines floating approximately
one-half mile from the ship. Twenty minutes after the first
sighting, as Samuel B. Roberts was backing clear of the minefleld,
she struck a submerged mine nearly ripping the warship in half.
Working feverishly for seven hours, the crew stabilized the ship.
Samuel B. Roberts was sent back to the United States for repair.
More Details at this link.
During the Iran-Iraq
war there was the "Tanker War" in the Gulf. The
American presence began on 10 March 1987 as
OPERATION ERNEST WILL. Eleven Kuwaiti tankers
were reflagged and put under U.S. protection. In
August 1987, Special Operations Command put
OPERATION PRIME CHANCE I into effect. Six Mk III
PBs, other small boats, two SEAL platoons, and six
MH-6/AH-6 helos were established on bases in the
Gulf off oil service rigs Hercules and Wimbrown
Units of ST-1 and
-2, SBU-1 and -2, the Army's "Night Stalkers"
spec ops helo unit, and 82nd Airborne were there
and rotated in and out in four month tours. Helo
ops began on 8 October 1987 sinking three
Iranian patrol boats.
ARCHER began on 19 October when an Iranian
Silkworm missile hit the tanker Sea Isle City
off Kuwait City's oil terminal. Four U.S.
destroyers shelled two oil platforms in the Rostram
oil field. SEALs and a unit from Force Recon
destroyed one of the platforms and the SEALs
searched a third.
U.S. patrol boats
began ops on 9 September. Jim Gray commanded at Mk
III PB from Hercules. Hercules
and Wimbrown 7 operated patrol boats and
helos within 15 miles of each other in the waters
around Karan Island.
On 25 September the SEALs
took down and captured the Iranian the Iran Agr
that was used to drop mines in the paths of the
tankers. [The ship was scuttled in deep water by
the SEALs the next day.]
In November, two
MH-60 Blackhawk helos were added for night-time
search and rescue.
On 14 April 1988,
USS Samuel B. Roberts hit an Iranian mine. On 18
April, U.S. forces launched OPERATION PRAYING
MANTIS. The Iranian frigate Sahalan
and oil platforms in the Sirri and Sassan oil fields
were hit. The Sirri oil platform was set ablaze and
was destroyed by secondary explosions. U.S. units
also sank two Iranian boats and damaged five in
other strikes. Iranians fired two Silkworm missiles
at Hercules and Wimbrown 7. The
frigate USS Gray decoyed them with chaff and later
discouraged an attack by Iranian F-4 jets and small
boats when it illuminated them with its fire control
On 16 July, the
AH-6/MH-6 helos were replaced by OH-58D Kiowa
[Longbow] units. On 18 July, Iran and Iraq accepted
a cease-fire and the war ended on 20 August. The
last EARNEST WILL convoy was run in December 1988.
That same month, the Wimbrown 7 was sent
to a Bahrain ship yard for conversion to civilian
use. Joint operations continued from Hercules until
June of 1989, when the units were returned to their