The Ghetto Navy
Philip Ewing at DODBuzz has a great piece about the Oliver Hazard Perry class (FFG-7) frigates left around since the Carter/Regan era. The U.S. Navy commissioned 51 FFG-7 class frigates between 1977 and 1989. As of early 2011, 27 long-hull Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates remain in active service. Of these, 19 ships are in regular service, while eight ships are in active service with the Naval Reserve Force. They are the oldest non-carrier surface combatants in the US fleet and are all set to be replaced by 2019.
“The life of a frigate sailor in the U.S. Navy doesn’t look much like what you see in the recruiting commercials.
As described by Navy Times’ senior writer Mark D. Faram, the crew of the frigate USS Elrod struggles constantly with breakdowns, old equipment and the limitations of a ship deliberately left out of combat relevance in the 21st century.
Plus sailors’ accommodations are cramped. Their clothes come back damp and wrinkled from the central laundry. Sometimes they shower without hot water for weeks.
The frigates, in short, are the self-described “Ghetto Navy,” the part of the surface force that makes the rest of the surface force — which has had its own maintenance, training and readiness problems — look good. But in the true spirit of the service, the crew has to look on the bright side. Everyone, starting with the ships’ chiefs, treats her or his time aboard as an experience that, as Calvin’s father might have put it, “builds character.”