USS Antrim (FFG-20)
The USS Antrim is an Oliver Hazard Perry–class guided missile frigate launched in 1979 and named after Richard Nott Antrim, a U.S. Navy officer awarded a Medal of Honor for heroism during World War II. The vessel later began serving the Turkish navy as TGC Giresun (F-491).
Richard Nott Antrim was a career navy officer who was serving as executive officer on the USS Pope when it was sunk by Japanese dive bombers on March 1, 1942. He was at the Makassar prisoner-of-war camp in the Celebes when he saw a Japanese guard brutally beating a fellow prisoner. After asking what the man’s offense was, Antrim offered to take the remainder of his beating, shocking his captors and eliciting cheers from the 2,700 allied prisoners who witnessed the act. He was awarded a Medal of Honor in 1947, with his citation stating that “by his fearless leadership and valiant concern for the welfare of another, he not only saved the life of a fellow officer and stunned the Japanese into sparing his own life but also brought about a new respect for American officers and men and a great improvement in camp living conditions.” Antrim retired as a rear admiral and moved to Mountain Home (Baxter County). He died on March 7, 1969, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Todd Shipyards Corporation received the contract to build the guided missile frigate USS Antrim on February 28, 1977, and the ship’s keel was laid on June 21, 1978, at the firm’s Seattle shipyards. The Antrim was launched on March 27, 1979, and christened by the late admiral’s widow, Jean Packard Antrim. The USS Antrim was commissioned on September 26, 1981, under the command of Commander William H. Wright IV and placed in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet with a base at Mayport, Florida.
The USS Antrim displaces 3,993 tons when fully loaded and can achieve speeds of more than twenty-eight knots with its twin General Electric LM 2500 gas turbines and two 350-horsepower electric drive auxiliary propulsion units turning its single five-bladed propeller. The ship is 445 feet long and forty-five feet wide and has a 24.6-foot draft. The Antrim’s armaments include a Mark 13 guided missile system, an OTO Melara Mark 75 three-inch 62-caliber gun, a Vulcan Phalanx 50-caliber machine gun, and six 324-mm Mark 32 torpedo launchers. The Antrim also held an SH-2 helicopter. The ship carried a crew of seventeen officers and 198 enlisted sailors.
The USS Antrim set sail for Mayport on October 1, 1981, and over the next fourteen and a half years participated in missions in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Atlantic Ocean. On February 10, 1983, while the vessel was conducting weapons testing and training, a target drone struck it, killing a civilian instructor who was asleep in his bunk. While serving in the Persian Gulf in 1985, the Antrim assisted two different civilian ships that were struck by Iranian missiles, with the frigate’s helicopter evacuating wounded crew members.
The USS Antrim was decommissioned on May 8, 1996, and struck from the navy list on September 4, 1997. On August 27, 1998, the vessel was given to the Turkish navy, and it began serving as the TGC Giresun (F-491).
The USS Antrim was one of three guided missile frigates named for military men with Arkansas connections. The others were the USS Thach, named for innovative aviator John Thach, and the USS Jack Williams, named for Jack Williams, who was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.
For additional information:
“Antrim II (FFG-20).” Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/a/antrim-ii.html (accessed March 3, 2023).
“USS Antrim (FFG 20).” Navsource.org. http://www.navsource.org/archives/07/0720.htm (accessed March 3, 2020).
“USS Antrim (FFG 20).” Unofficial U.S. Navy Site. https://www.navysite.de/ffg/FFG20.HTM (accessed March 3, 2023).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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