A tin can full of Sparrows, for the first time, 48 years ago today

The 4th (and last as of 2019) ship named in honor of Midshipman John Trippe, who at the ripe old age of 19 fought so bravely against the Barbary pirates that he earned the praise of Congress and a gold sword, the Knox-class destroyer escort USS Trippe (DE-1075) was built in New Orleans and commissioned 19 September 1970.

The fine steam-powered escort was soon updated just months after joining the fleet by picking up the then-new Basic Point Defense Missile System, an 8-cell launcher for the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile, which was soon retrofitted to most of her class. She was the first destroyer-type ship to be fitted with this system for fleet deployment (USS Bradley, DE-1041, was fitted with an experimental version in 1967 but it was removed before she sailed for Vietnam)

Underway off Newport, Rhode Island, 22 December 1971. Note the Basic Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS) launcher on her after deck, and the related fire control director atop her helicopter hangar. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Catalog #: K-92059

USS Trippe (DE-1075) Underway after being fitted with an enlarged helicopter hangar and flight deck. Note the Sea Sparrow BPDMS launcher on her stern. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Catalog #: USN 1160984

Trippe was soon deployed off Vietnam with her new missile package and, reclassified as a fast frigate (FF-1075) in 1975, continued to serve until she was decommissioned on 30 July 1992, just before her 22nd birthday, a victim of post-Cold War budget cuts. Transferred to the Hellenic Navy the same month, she served the Greeks for another decade and was only disposed of after a major fire gutted her interior in 2003.

As for Sea Sparrow, it has been increasingly replaced with the VLS-capable Evolved Sea Sparrow missile in recent years but continues to serve in a much more updated version than what Trippe sailed with nearly 50 years ago.

180125-N-NB544-073 PHILIPPINE SEA (Jan. 25, 2018) Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael Sypien, from Arlington, Texas, stands by for medical coverage during a NATO Sea Sparrow missile upload aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom/Released)

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