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U.S.S. Reuben James (FFG-57)

Reuben James is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate in service with the U.S. Pacific Fleet. She is currently stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Construction

She was laid down at Todd Shipbuilding in San Pedro, CA on 19 November 1983 and commissioned on 22 March 1986.

Service

Reuben James reported to Naval Station Long Beach, CA in June 1987, joining Destroyer Squadron 31. One month later, she made her first voyage to the Middle East. There, she participated in Operation Earnest Will, escorting twenty-two convoys during the Iran-Iraq war. The frigate took part in an unusual event during the waning days of the Cold War. On 14 September 1990, she entered the major Soviet naval base of Vladivostok, in company with the cruiser Princeton. The two ships stayed in port for 4 days as part of a goodwill visit. During this time, sailors from Reuben James joined their Soviet counterparts in laying wreathes at a memorial to Soviet losses during WWII.

In August 1991 the frigate transferred to Pearl Harbor, where she is based to this day. During a deployment in 1995, she lost her rudder and was forced to make port in Bahrain for emergency repairs. Reuben James rejoined her old group, Destroyer Squadron 31, on 1 October 1998.

The ship participated in the massive CARAT exercises in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore during 2000. She took part in numerous missions, including a continuous 25-hour period in formation with Malaysian vessels. On 2 August 2002, Reuben James sortied with Abraham Lincoln and her battle group for the Persian Gulf in support of the invasion of Afghanistan. She was headed back to port with Lincoln on 1 January 2003 when the battle group was ordered back into the Gulf for Operation Earnest Will, the invasion of Iraq. Reuben James accompanied the carrier on her record-setting nine-month deployment to the gulf. After her return, she accompanied the Japanese destroyer Shimakaze on exercises in Pearl Harbor.

Reuben James attached to Coast Guard forces from February to April 2004 for drug-busting operations. In July, she underwent an overhaul that removed her Mk. 13 missile launcher, eliminating her ship-to-ship engagement capabilities at range. She began a deployment to the Persian Gulf on 15 February 2006 during which the frigate rendered assistance to injured Sri Lankan fishermen and rescued Kenyan sailors. She returned to Pearl Harbor in August.

Fate

Reuben James is still in active service as of 2012, however, she is scheduled for decommissioning in August 2013 with the remaining members of her class. With their passing, the Navy will no longer operate frigates. Her roles in the fleet will be filled by one of the twenty new Freedom or Independence-class littoral combat ships planned for construction.

In Media

The frigate has featured prominently in the Tom Clancy franchise. She made her first appearance in the novel Red Storm Rising as the command of a key character. She was also featured in the climactic scenes of the movie The Hunt For Red October.

Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Reuben James is a gas turbine-powered vessel constructed after the Navy severely reduced its use of asbestos products. Therefore, it is unlikely, but not unthinkable, that crewmembers or shipyard workers were exposed to asbestos fibers from this ship.

Asbestos insulation can break into tiny fibers when damaged. When inhaled, these fibers are proven to cause mesothelioma, a malignant lung cancer. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, but treatments such as chemotherapy can be used to fight the disease.

If you or someone you know served aboard Reuben James or worked on her in a shipyard and has contracted mesothelioma, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page to receive free information regarding your rights to compensation.

Resources/Further Reading