Aboard Mighty Servant 2

The heavy-lift ship MV Mighty Servant bears the damaged USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) on the journey from Dubai to Newport, R.I. (U.S. Navy photo)
The heavy-lift ship MV Mighty Servant bears the damaged USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) on the journey from Dubai to Newport, R.I. (U.S. Navy)

Cmdr. Paul Rinn argued that his damaged USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) should be repaired in a Dubai shipyard so it could return home under its own power, but Navy leaders rejected the idea as impractical. Instead, they decided to bring the wounded frigate home atop one of the world’s most unusual vessels: the semi-submersible heavy-lift ship MV Mighty Servant 2.

Built in 1983, the 25,000-ton MS2 was created to haul huge and unwieldy loads around the world’s oceans. Its deck was larger than a soccer pitch, and its hull was honeycombed with ballast tanks. When the tanks took on water, the deck sank beneath the surface, allowing loads to be floated into position. When the tanks were pumped dry, the MS2 rose to shoulder its cargo.

On 27 June 1988, the Roberts was towed from Dubai and loaded aboard the MS2. For security’s sake, the rendezvous took place some 60 miles away from the harbor.

Loading Off the UAE Coast

The blocking cradle that will hold Roberts disappears as Mighty Servant 2 takes on water and sinks. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 Michael Harnar)
The blocking cradle that will hold Roberts disappears as MS2 takes on water and sinks. (PH2 Michael Harnar/U.S. Navy)
A tug pulls <i>Roberts</i> into position over MS2's cargo deck. Because of tolerances measures in inches, the loading will take some 12 hours. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 Michael Harnar)
A tug pulls Roberts into position over MS2‘s cargo deck. Because of tolerances measured in inches, the loading will take some 12 hours. (PH2 Michael Harnar/U.S. Navy)
Steel cables are attached to hold <i>Roberts</i> in place above MS2. (PH2 Michael Harnar/U.S. Navy)
Steel cables are attached to hold Roberts in place above MS2. (Photo: PH2 Michael Harnar, U.S. Navy)
The Dutch salvage ship MIGHTY SERVANT II prepares to lift the guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58) onto its deck for transport back to its home port in Newport, R.I.  The frigate was damaged after it struck a mine in the Persian Gulf on 14 April 1988.
Over the course of several hours, MS2 rises under Roberts until the frigate’s hull comes to rest on the blocking cradle. (PH2 Parlato/U.S. Navy)

 

A crowd observes the damaged guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58) secured on the deck of the Dutch salvage ship MIGHTY SERVANT II.  The MIGHTY SERVANT II transported the frigate back to its home port after it struck a mine in the Persian Gulf on 14 April 1988.
A warship out of water is a rare sightseeing treat; Roberts rests on MS2’s ochre deck. (PH2 Parlato/U.S. Navy)
A port quarter view of the guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58) secured on the deck of the Dutch salvage ship MIGHTY SERVANT II.  The MIGHTY SERVANT II is transporting the frigate back to its home port in Newport, R.I., after it struck a mine in the Persian Gulf on 14  April 1988.
Even with Roberts’ shaft and screw removed, a hole had to be cut in MS2’s deck to accommodate the frigate’s rudder. (PH2 Parlato/U.S. Navy)
A close-up view of supports anchoring the guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58) aboard the deck of the Dutch heavy-lift ship MIGHTY SERVANT II.  The MIGHTY SERVANT will transport the frigate, which was damaged when it struck an Iranian mine on April 14, 1988, to its home port in Newport, R.I.
Close-up of the support beams near Roberts’ hull stabilizers.(PH2 Michael Harnar/U.S. Navy)
The guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58) is silhouetted by the setting sun as it is tranported on the deck of the Dutch heavy-lift ship MIGHT SERVANT II.  The MIGHTY SERVANT is transporting the frigate, which was damaged when it struck an Iranian mine on April 14, 1988, to its home port in Newport, R.I.
Roberts at rest before the month-long journey home. (PH2 Michael Harnar/U.S. Navy)

Heading Home To Rhode Island

With a skeleton crew of about 40 sailors aboard, <i>Roberts</i>departs UAE waters, heading for the Strait of Hormuz on 1 July 1988. (PH2 Michael Harnar/U.S. Navy)
With a skeleton crew of about 40 sailors aboard, Roberts departs UAE waters, heading for the Strait of Hormuz on 1 July 1988. (PH2 Michael Harnar/U.S. Navy)
One month and 8,100 miles later, <i>Roberts</i> approaches Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay on 31 July 1988. (U.S. NAVY PHOTO BY PH2 ELLIOTT)
One month and 8,100 miles later, Roberts approaches Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay on 31 July 1988. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)

Unloading in Narragansett Bay

At home at last. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
At home at last. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
One gets the feeling MS2 could have held two <i>Robertses</i>. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
One gets the feeling MS2 could have held two Robertses. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
A Coast Guard boat, upper right, guards the <i>Roberts</i> and the MS2 in the harbor. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
A Coast Guard boat, upper right, guards the Roberts and the MS2 in the harbor. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
Yard Patrol craft No. 700, part of the Newport Naval Education and Training Center's pocket fleet, comes alongside <i>Roberts</i> not far from the Newport Bridge. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
Yard Patrol craft No. 700, part of the Newport Naval Education and Training Center’s pocket fleet, comes alongside Roberts not far from the Newport Bridge. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
<i>Roberts</i> prepares to disembark. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
Roberts prepares to disembark. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
<i>Roberts</i> begins to float free. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
Roberts begins to float free. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
A tugboat pulls <i>Roberts</i> from the heavy-lift ship. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
A tugboat pulls Roberts from the heavy-lift ship. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
Tied to a pier at the Newport naval station, <i>Roberts</i> is home at last. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
Tied to a pier at the Newport naval station, Roberts is home at last. (PH2 Elliott/U.S. Navy)
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