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Retired Navy Capt. Paul Rinn Shares the Story of USS Samuel B. Roberts
U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Lewis Hunsaker

Retired Navy Capt. Paul Rinn Shares the Story of USS Samuel B. Roberts

By MC1 Lewis Hunsaker

Retired Navy Capt. Paul Rinn addresses students, faculty and staff during an NPS Secretary of the Navy Guest Lecture (SGL) in King Auditorium, April 19. Rinn shared his story when, as the commanding officer of guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58), his ship struck a mine in the spring of 1988 while on escort duty in the Persian Gulf.

"The story of Samuel B. Roberts doesn't happen on April 14, 1988. It happens long before that," said Rinn. "The story of preparedness, combat readiness, strong leadership and everything else, starts way in advance."

With 13 years of Navy experience behind him, Rinn was assigned to be the CO of the U.S. Navy's newest ship, USS Samuel B. Roberts. He was also the youngest CO in the Navy at that time.

"When I first arrived at the ship, I wanted to generate a sense of what was important … not just for me but for the entire ship's company," said Rinn. "The crew of 220 Sailors came from 47 different states. I had to bring everyone together to think, fight and care alike, in order to be one unit."

With very little time to get his crew up to speed, Rinn initiated an intense training regimen that included cross training for all of his crew.

"We practiced, drilled, and practiced and drilled some more," said Rinn. "Until the crew was convinced that we could do everything faster and better than anyone. Once the crew saw that they were doing everything better than everyone, they really bought into the system."

On April 14, 1988, that training was put to the test when the Samuel B. Roberts hit a mine in the Persian Gulf, causing the ship to lose all power in the aft end of the ship.

"Power for the ship was rigged in 22 minutes by a Boatswain's Mate, Sonar Technician, Shipfitter, Cook [Culinary Specialist], and a Radioman with an Electrician arriving at the end," said Rinn. "This team powered up the ship and essentially saved the ship without a single engineer. Why was that? Because we trained!"

For his actions during the attack, Rinn was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and he received the U.S. Navy League John Paul Jones Inspirational Leadership Award. Over the course of their Navy careers, 34 of his crewmembers made Chief Petty Officer, 20 advanced to Master Chief Petty Officer, while five of his officers went on to command and three to major commands. Rinn retired from the Navy in 1997.

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April 2016

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