This is what a typical USN engagement looks like: Operation Preying Mantis
(sorry for the long cut-n-paste, but I want people to read the account)
This battle was the largest of the five major U.S. surface engagements since the Second World War, which also include the Battle of Chumonchin Chan
during the Korean War, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Battle of Dong Hoi during the Vietnam War, and the Action in the Gulf of Sidra in 1986. It
also marked the U.S. Navy's first exchange of anti-ship missiles by ships.
On 18 April, the U.S. Navy attacked with several groups of surface warships, plus aircraft from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, and her cruiser
escort, USS Truxtun. The action began with coordinated strikes by two surface groups.
One surface action group, or SAG, consisting of the destroyers USS Merrill and USS Lynde McCormick, plus the amphibious transport dock USS Trenton and
its embarked Marine Air Ground Task Force and the LAMPS (Light Airborne MultiPurpose System) Helicopter Detachment (HSL-44 Det 5) from USS Samuel B.
Roberts, was ordered to destroy the guns and other military facilities on the Sassan oil platform.
Cobra helicopters completed the destruction of enemy resistance. The Marines boarded the platform, and recovered a single wounded survivor (who was
transported to Bahrain), some small arms, and intelligence. The Marines planted explosives, left the platform, and detonated them. The SAG was then
ordered to proceed north to the Rakhsh oil platform to destroy it.
As the SAG departed the Sassan oil field, two Iranian F-4s made an attack run, but broke off when Lynde McCormick locked its fire control radar on the
aircraft. Halfway to the Rahksh oil platform, the attack was called off in an attempt to ease pressure on the Iranians and signal a desire for
Iran responded by dispatching Boghammar speedboats to attack various targets in the Persian Gulf, including the American-flagged supply ship Willy
Tide, the Panamanian-flagged Scan Bay and the British tanker York Marine. All of these vessels were damaged in different degrees. After the attacks,
A-6E Intruder aircraft launched from CVN 65 were directed to the speedboats by an American frigate. The two aircraft, piloted by "Lizards" Lieutenant
Commander James Engler and Lieutenant Paul Webb, dropped Rockeye cluster bombs on the speedboats, sinking one and damaging several others, which then
fled to the Iranian-controlled island of Abu Musa.
Action continued to escalate. Joshan, an Iranian Combattante II Kaman-class fast attack craft, challenged USS Wainwright and Surface Action Group
Charlie. The commanding officer of Wainwright directed a final warning (of a series of warnings) stating that Joshan was to "stop your engines,
abandon ship, I intend to sink you". Joshan responded by firing a Harpoon missile at them. Simpson responded to the challenge by firing four
Standard missiles, while Wainwright followed with one Standard missile. All missiles hit and destroyed the Iranian ship's superstructure but did
not immediately sink it, so Bagley fired a Harpoon of its own; the missile did not find the target. SAG Charlie closed on Joshan, with Simpson, then
Bagley and Wainwright firing guns to sink the crippled Iranian ship.
Two Iranian F-4 Phantom fighters were orbiting about 48 km away when Wainwright decided to drive them away. Wainwright fired two Extended Range
Standard missiles, one of which detonated near an F-4, blowing off part of its wing and peppering the fuselage with shrapnel. The F-4s withdrew, and
the Iranian pilot landed his damaged airplane at Bandar Abbas.
Fighting continued when the Iranian frigate Sahand departed Bandar Abbas and challenged elements of an American surface group. The frigate was spotted
by two Lizard A-6Es while they were flying surface combat air patrol for USS Joseph Strauss.
Iranian frigate Sahand burning from bow to stern on 18 April 1988 after being attacked.
Sahand fired missiles at the A-6Es, which replied with two Harpoon missiles and four laser-guided Skipper bombs. Joseph Strauss fired a Harpoon. Most,
if not all of the shots scored hits, causing heavy damage and fires. Fires blazing on Sahand's decks eventually reached her munitions magazines,
causing an explosion that sank the vessel.
Late in the day, the Iranian frigate Sabalan, departed from its berth and fired a surface-to-air missile at several A-6Es from VA-95. The Intruders
then dropped a Mark 82 laser-guided bomb into Sabalan 's stack, crippling the ship and leaving it burning. The Iranian frigate, stern
partially submerged, was taken in tow by an Iranian tug, and was repaired and eventually returned to service. VA-95's aircraft, as ordered, did not
continue the attack. The A-6 pilot who crippled Sabalan, LCDR James Engler, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Admiral William J. Crowe,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the actions against Sabalan and the Iranian gunboats.
As the retaliation for the attacks, Iran fired Silkworm missiles (suspected to be the HY-4 version) from land bases against SAG Delta in the Strait of
Hormuz and against USS Gary in the northern central Persian Gulf, but all missed due to the evasive maneuvers and use of decoys by the ships. A
missile was probably shot down by Gary 's 76 mm (3.0 in) gun. The Pentagon and the Reagan Administration later denied that any Silkworm
missile attacks took place probably since it was the only way to keep the situation from escalating further as they had promised before publicly that
any such attacks would merit retaliation against targets on Iranian soil.
edit on 5-5-2015 by FlyingFox because: freedom