Sprucan Desert Shield Watercolors

While assigned to the Middle East Force from September to December 1990, the Pascagoula-built Spruance-class destroyer USS O’Brien (DD-975) participated in maritime interdiction as part of Operation Desert Shield. Conducting Persian Gulf patrols in support of the United Nations embargo on Saddam’s Iraq, O’Brien investigated over 400 vessels.

Aboard for part of that cruise was naval artist John Charles Roach who chronicled some of the work.

“50-Caliber Watch,” oil on canvas board, John Charles Roach, 1991. Two armed sailors in protective gear stand watch near a .50-caliber machine gun on board USS O’Brien (DD-975) in the Persian Gulf (91-049-D). “On the bridge wing of USS O’Brian (DD 975), two crewmen man the 50-caliber machine gun. They will fire cover during boarding for ship identification or a threat of small boat attack to the ship during the enforcement of sanctions against Iraq.”

“Interdiction and Confirmation,” watercolor by John Charles Roach, 1991. Maritime interdiction operations (MIO) in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield (99-049-C). “USS O’Brien (DD-975), is moving in close to the Star of South America. Only by a close look can USS O’Brien inspect the weld marks of the ship. Weld marks are as unique as a fingerprint in identifying a ship. USS O’Brien is looking to see if the name on the ship’s transom matches its welds, or if it has been altered recently in an attempt to disguise the ship.”

“Flight to Baghdad,” watching TLAMs head in at the beginning of Desert Storm. Watercolor on Paper; by John Charles Roach; 1991

“Up Romeo” Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by John Charles Roach; 1991

Decommissioned while still in her prime on 24 September 2004 with only 27 years on the Navy List, O’Brien was sunk as a target off Hawaii by USS Lake Erie (CG-70), HMCS Vancouver, and USN aircraft, on 9 February 2006.

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