USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD 823)

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD 823) (U.S. Navy photo)

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD-823) in 1959. (U.S. Navy photo)

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD 823) in 1959. (U.S. Navy photo)

Cmdr. Paul Rinn, the first commanding officer of the third USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58), believed in the power of naval heritage to inspire a crew, and insisted that his sailors know about previous U.S. Navy warships to bear the name.

The second one was USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD 823), a Gearing-class destroyer. Commissioned in 1946, DD 823 was nicknamed the “Steaming Sammy B” by its hard-working crew. Like a naval Forrest Gump, the second Roberts participated in many of the Navy’s big events in the decades that followed World War II: the Cuban missile blockade, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, President Eisenhower’s 1955 European summit, the first air strikes from a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the investigation into the sinking of the attack sub USS Thresher, the freedom-of-navigation sorties into the Black Sea, and more.

DD 823 served the nation for nearly 35 years. The ship was decommissioned in 1970 and sunk the following year as a training target in deep water off Puerto Rico.

USS Samuel B. Roberts is sunk as a training target off Puerto Rico on Nov. 14, 1971.

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD 823) is sunk as a training target off Puerto Rico on Nov. 14, 1971. (U.S. Navy photo)