Sounds From a Ship in Peril

In the hours and days after the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) struck a mine on 14 April 1988, electronics officer Lt. (j.g.) Robert Chambers recorded several of Cmdr. Paul Rinn’s broadcasts over the ship’s 1MC, its public address system.

14 April 1988, around 6 p.m. Fires are still burning in the ship, flooding has been controlled, and two friendly ships are approaching. But the size of the minefield is unknown, he says, so, “We’re going to have to hang in there like Samuel B. Roberts guys and fight this thing on our own.” (0:54) MP3

15 April 1988, early. Rinn thanks his crew, but says, “Let me be frank with you; USS Samuel B. Roberts is still in a lot of danger, and…we may have to abandon ship on very short notice.” (2:49) MP3

15 April 1988, later. With Roberts under tow, Rinn talks about worldwide attention focused on the ship, and its prospects for repair in Dubai. “I talked to several of the COs out here, and they are frankly in awe that we are still afloat.” (2:54) WAV

28 April 1988. President Ronald Reagan calls to congratulate captain and crew on their damage control effort: “I’m certainly proud of you and your men…I think there’s a term I should use. I don’t really understand its meaning, but: Bravo Zulu.” (3:36) WAV

21 May 1988. Reagan praises the crew of the Roberts in the president’s first annual Armed Forces Day speech: “Just last month, the world saw what those who serve America on freedom’s front-what they can do when the chips are down. I’m speaking of the story of the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts…” (No audio file available yet)