Photos: U.S. Navy Sinks a Frigate in Live-Fire Exercise

US Navy sink exercise with live-fire
A former guided missile frigate was sunk in this year's exercise (US Navy photos)

Published Aug 18, 2021 3:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy completed its annual live-fire training exercise off Hawaii over the weekend with the sinking of a decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, the former USS Ingraham, on August 15.


According to the Navy, these rare exercises provide critical, realistic training necessary for its mission. Forces from multiple service branches joined this year's SINKEX, including the Vinson Carrier Strike Group, Submarine Forces Pacific, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force/3rd Marine Air Wing, 3rd Marine Division, and the U.S. Army Multi-Domain Task Force.

The U.S. Marine Corps' new unmanned, remote-controlled NMESIS vehicle launched a Naval Strike Missile at the target (Photo courtesy of US Navy)

Crewmembers aboard USS Carl Vinson load a Joint Stand-Off Weapon on an F/A-18 fighter for the live-fire exercise (U.S. Navy)

USS Ingraham after receiving fire (Image courtesy U.S. Navy)

“Lethal combat power was effectively applied to a variety of maritime threats over the last two weeks in a simulated environment as part of the Navy’s Large-Scale Exercise and expertly demonstrated Sunday with live ordnance,” said U.S. 3rd Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Steve Koehler. “The precise and coordinated strikes from the Navy and our joint teammates resulted in the rapid destruction and sinking of the target ship and exemplify our ability to decisively apply force in the maritime battlespace.”

Former Navy vessels used in sinking exercises are prepared in compliance with EPA regulations under a general permit the Navy holds under the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act. Each exercise is required to sink the hulk in at least 6,000 feet of water and at least 50 nautical miles from land, and surveys are conducted to safeguard against harm to people or marine mammals. Each target vessel is put through a cleaning process for environmental safety and is inspected to ensure it meets EPA requirements.

The former USS Ingraham was the last vessel in the Oliver Hazard Perry class of guided-missile frigates, which have been used in previous sinking exercises (and have shown considerable resilience). The ship was named for Capt. Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham, an officer who served the Confederacy during the Civil War, and she was the fourth Navy ship with the namesake.

In an odd quick of history, she was also the second ship of this name to be used in a sinking exercise. The previous USS Ingraham, a Sumner-class destroyer built in 1944 and decommissioned in 1971, was sold to the Greek Navy and was sunk as a target in 2001.

In last year's exercise (video below), the target was the decommissioned amphibious cargo ship USS Durham, built in 1969 at Newport News. She served during the Vietnam and Gulf wars and participated in the evacuation of Saigon. 

USS Durham takes fire in last year's sinking exercise off Hawaii, August 2020 (Courtesy U.S. Navy)