The USS Ainsworth was a member of the Knox-class of frigates. She was named in honor of Admiral Walden L. “Pug” Ainsworth, a commander of destroyer and cruiser forces during World War II and the winner of the Navy Cross and the Legion of Merit.
The contract to build the Ainsworth was awarded to the Avondale Shipyards of Westwego, La., on Aug. 25, 1966. Her keel was laid down June 11, 1971; she was launched on April 15, 1972. She was commissioned on March 31, 1973, with Lt. Commander Terrence E. Siple in command.
The Ainsworth was homeported at Norfolk, Va., and became part of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. After her shakedown cruise, she went into drydock for her post-shakedown overhaul. That overhaul was interrupted by the increased tensions in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war and the Ainsworth was placed on 36-hour standby to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea. That deployment never occurred and the overhaul was completed in February 1974.
In July of that year, the Ainsworth was deployed on a UNITAS tour, a circumnavigation of South America. She made several ports of call and conducted exercises with several South American navies before returning to Norfolk in December.
In October 1975, the Ainsworth deployed to the Mediterranean for the first time, joining the 6th Fleet. She made ports of call in Morocco and Spain before taking part in Operation Ocean Safari in the North Atlantic in late November. She returned to the Mediterranean after the completion of that exercise and visited ports in Italy, Greece, Turkey, France and Spain before returning to Norfolk in April 1976.
The Ainsworth spent the rest of 1976 operating off the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. She redeployed to the Mediterranean on March 31, 1977. She made ports of call in Greece, Israel, Italy, Sicily, France, Spain and Portugal during the deployment; she also took part in exercise National Week XXIII in mid-August. She returned to Norfolk on Oct. 10.
The Ainsworth ended 1977 taking part in December’s MARCOTT exercise with the Canadian Navy, then spent all of February 1978 in the Atlantic Fleet’s annual exercise. In March, she took part in a combined weapons test and training exercise that was observed by President Jimmy Carter. Later that spring, she entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for an overhaul that lasted until March 1979.
In November, the Ainsworth deployed to the Mediterranean once more, but also made her way through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea and, eventually the Persian Gulf. Her stay in the gulf was as part of a large U.S. show of force off the coast of Iran after that nation had taken American citizens at the embassy in Tehran hostage. The Ainsworth would spend 84 consecutive days in service in the gulf during the crisis. In March 1980, she headed west, eventually returning to Norfolk on April 17.
In June 1980, she deployed to the North Atlantic, taking part in NATO exercises United Effort and Teamwork 80, which kept her at sea until late September. She made ports of call in Denmark, Norway, Scotland and England before finally returning home in early November. In March 1981, the Ainsworth was deployed again to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, taking part in an exercise with two British Royal Navy ships and escorting two U.S. carriers, the America and Kitty Hawk. On her return voyage to Norfolk, she took part in Exercises Ocean Venture and Magic Sword before eventually making it back to Virginia on Sept. 15. A month later, she sailed up the York River and took part in the bicentennial celebration of the American victory over the British at Yorktown, the battle that effectively ended the Revolutionary War.
The Ainsworth would not deploy to the Mediterranean until the last week of December 1982, when she was ordered to the coast of Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force. She remained off the coast of Beirut until the end of January, then entered the Indian Ocean to take part in exercises with other American ships. She returned to the Mediterranean for two weeks of special operations with the USS Nimitz battle group before leaving the 6th Fleet in early May. She returned to Norfolk on May 20, 1983.
In August 1983, the Ainsworth began an overhaul at the Charleston (S.C.) Naval Shipyard. After receiving upgraded sonar equipment and new weapons systems, she returned to the waters of the Atlantic at the end of March 1984. She operated off the east coast of the U.S. and in the Caribbean until August 1985, when she began a seven-month deployment to the Mediterranean. Primarily tasked with the role of carrier escort, the Ainsworth remained in the Mediterranean as tensions between the United States and Libya increased in early 1986. After taking part in several exercises, she left the region in early April, just before Operation El Dorado Canyon, the U.S. bombing of Libya. She received her only Navy Unit Commendation for her performance on this deployment.
In 1994, the Ainsworth received her only Battle “E” for outstanding combat preparedness.
The Ainsworth was decommissioned on May 27, 1994 and leased to the Turkish Navy the same day. She continued her career as the Parata Pugnare and was eventually purchased by Turkey in 1999.
Characteristics of the USS Ainsworth
Propulsion system: 2 – 1200 psi boilers; 1 geared turbine, 1 shaft; 35,000 shaft horsepower Length: 438 feet (133.5 meters)
Beam: 47 feet (14.4 meters)
Draft: 25 feet (7.6 meters)
Displacement: approx. 4,200 tons full load
Speed: 27 knots
Armament: one Mk-16 missile launcher for ASROC and Harpoon missiles
one Mk-42 5-inch/54 caliber gun
Mk-46 torpedoes from single tube launchers
one 20mm Phalanx
CIWS Aircraft: one SH-2F (LAMPS I) helicopter
Crew: 18 officers, 267 enlisted
Awarded: August 25, 1966
Builder: Avondale Shipyard, Westwego, Louisiana
Laid down: 11 June 1971
Launched: 15 April 1972
Acquired: 1 February 1973
Commissioned: 31 March 1973
Decommissioned: 27 May 1994
Struck: 11 January 1995
Motto: Parata Pugnare
Fate: Transferred to Turkey as Ege (F-256)
August 1966: USS Ainsworth awarded
June 1971: Keel of USS Ainsworth laid down
April 1972: USS Ainsworth launched
March 1973: USS Ainsworth commissioned
July 1974: USS Ainsworth begins UNITAS tour
October 1975: USS Ainsworth makes first Mediterranean deployment
November 1979: USS Ainsworth deploys to the Persian Gulf
December 1982: USS Ainsworth begins deployment to coast of Lebanon
March 1986: USS Ainsworth wins Navy Unit Commendation
May 1994: USS Ainsworth decommissioned
Crewmembers of the USS Ainsworth:
An unofficial list of crew members that served on the USS Ainsworth can be found on the unofficial navy website at: http://navysite.de. This list is compiled by former crewmembers that voluntarily register. Some quoted comments from former crewmembers are listed below; many more are available on the source website at the following Web address:
Jack Cooper (served April 1985—May 1987): “The AINSWORTH crew, to put it in Capt. Carden’s words, were Super! I enjoyed my times with all you wild lads from 3rd and 2nd div, the signal gang, the engineers, it was a great crew.”
Parker Trowbridge (served June 1985—March 1991): “4 YEARS 9 MONTHS ON THE FLOATING HELL BARGE. A GREAT TIME WITH AN AWESOME CREW. WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM SOME OF THE BOYS. “
Chris Carter (served June 1985—August 1987): “Some of my best days. I learned something from all I met. Thank You.”