1978/9 Middle East                      

USS Mullinnix, USS Vreeland - Bermuda 1978
Courtsey of Andy Maroney LCDR/USNR (Ret)

MT 51 Persian Gulf 1979
Photo Courtesy of Ken Martin

The following account of this cruise is courtsey of Andy Maroney LCDR/USNR (Ret)

The MULLINNIX departed Charleston on 21 July for six month Mideast Deployment. First stop was Mayport, FL to join up with the frigate VREELAND (FF-1068). The two ships then stopped in Bermuda (7/26) and Azores (7/30) for fuel and supplies. Prior to transiting the Mediterranean, both ships stopped at Rota, Spain for fuel and supplies on 1 August. After a direct transit of the Mediterranean, with an unrep from CANISTEO (AO-99), both ships arrived at Alexandria, Egypt on 6 August. They transited the Suez Canal on 7 August-- evidence of past conflicts between Israel and Egypt were still visible. Upon exiting the Canal, both ships headed for Port Sudan, Sudan to relieve the BARNEY (DDG-6) and Glover (AGFF-1) that had been assigned to MIDEASTFOR. Rear Admiral Parker, COMIDEASTFOR, broke his flag on MUX on 9 August for the turnover.

Upon completion of turnover, COMIDEASTFOR left and MULLINNIX and VREELAND parted company. VREELAND was assigned to monitor operations of Soviet forces in the vicinity of Aden and Socotra Island. MULLINNIX was assigned the envious role of showing the flag in the Indian Ocean. After stopping in Djibouti (8/12), the MUX "Crosses the Line" and had a Shellback initiation on 17 August. MUX then pulled into Mombassa, Kenya for fuel and supplies on 19 August. On 26 August, the MULLINNIX arrived at her first port of call - the French Ile de Reķnion in the southern Indian Ocean. After an enjoyable two day port visit in this tropical paradise, the MUX headed for Mauritius for another port visit on 29 August. After 2 days anchored off Mauritius, MULLINNIX sailed to Seychelles for another port visit on 4 September. Also at the Seychelles was the LASALLE (AGF-3), the flagship of COMIDEASTFOR. The Seychelles was super liberty port for the crew. It is interesting to note that the Seychelles was the featured exotic location in the following years Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue - unfortunately, the MUX crew didnít run into any SI photographers shooting for the upcoming issue.

After a 3-day visit, MULLINNIX sailed with the LASALLE for four days, conducting a variety of ship-handling and other tactical exercises. After detaching from LASALLE, MUX headed for a 10-day upkeep in Karachi, Pakistan. Arrived Karachi on 16 September. MUX sailors were able to enjoy the recreational facilities at the American School in Karachi and enjoyed shopping in the Karachi bazaar. Following the visit to Karachi, MULLINNIX sailed through the Strait of Hormuz for Sitra for refueling. After refueling on 1 October, the MUX conducted exercises with LASALLE in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. During lull in exercises, the MUX conducted small boat training with the gig and motor whaleboat designated as "refreshment centers" -- 2 cold beers for each crewmember that wanted one. Following the exercises, MUX pulled into Bahrain on 12 October for a four-day port call. MUX moored outboard of the "White Whale," the LASALLE. MUX crew participated in Navyís 203rd Birthday celebration held at the Bahrain Administrative Support Unit. Upon departing Bahrain, the MUX conducted a two-day passing exercise (PASSEX) with three Saudi motor torpedo boats (German JAGUAR-type). The exercise consisted of tactical maneuvering drills and simulated torpedo attacks by the MTBs on the MUX.

After the Saudi PASSEX, the MUX then sailed to Bandar Abbas, Iran on 21 October for a three-day port visit. The wardroom was treated to a dinner at the home of the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Iranian Navy, Rear Admiral Azadi, on 21 October. The MUX wardroom hosted a dinner for the Commander-in-Chief and his staff on the 22nd. Although there was no liberty outside the base, the crew was able to enjoy the lounges on the ex-Italian liner MICHELANGELO that was docked in Bandar Abbas. After leaving Bandar Abbas, the MUX conducted some more exercises in the Persian Gulf before pulling in to Sitra for fuel on 31 October. After topping off with fuel, the MUX returned to Bahrain for a two-week upkeep. The MUX moored next to the LASALLE and the VREELAND moored outboard the MULLINNIX. Liberty highlights in Bahrain included shopping for gold in the Suq, nightclubs at the Bahrain International Airport, and touring the oil operations on Bahrain.

After departing Bahrain, MUX returned to the Gulf of Oman to await the arrival of LASALLE and three British ships, the frigates HMS SIRIUS (F-40) and HMS ARDENT (F-184), and the oiler RFA GREY ROVER (Note: HMS ARDENT sunk during the Falklands War in 1982). The ships operated in company while steaming to Karachi for the start of the annual MIDLINK maritime exercise run under CENTO command. Other ships participating in MIDLINK-78 included the STERETT (CG-31), WADDELL (DDG-24), BRADLEY (FF-1041) from the 7th Fleet and Pakistani and Iranian ships. During the first part of the exercise, the MUX operated with ARDENT, the destroyer PNS ALAMGIR (ex U.S. GEARING class), the destroyer IIN BADR (ex-ZELLER, DD-771), and the oiler USNS PASSUMPSIC. This group conducted various exercises including naval gunfire support shoot on a small Pakistani island, an anti-aircraft shoot against a drone, and simulated attacks on a Pakistani submarine. During the second phase of MIDLINK, MULLINNIX was assigned as part of the "ORANGE" aggressor forces. During the course of the wargame, the MUX engaged four aircraft, one helo, and seven surface ships of the "BLUE" forces.

Upon completion of MIDLINK, MULLINNIX was scheduled to return to Mombassa, Kenya for a port visit prior to being relieved and heading home. The crew had arranged several African safaris for the port visit. However, the political crisis in Iran worsened and all US units that had participated in MIDLINK were not dispersed but kept in the area to provide contingency support. The Mombassa visit was cancelled and the crew, although disappointed with the loss of liberty, was excited about the possibility of putting their training to work. On 8 December, MULLINNIX returned to the Persian Gulf to be in position to support the possible evacuation of Americans from Iran if needed. The MUX "did donuts" in the lower Gulf, avoiding supertankers and oil wells, as well as periodically anchoring to conserve fuel. After two weeks of boredom and inactivity for the crew, the political situation lessened somewhat and the MUX was allowed to detach for turnover. The MULLINNIX and VREELAND departed the Persian Gulf on 20 December and headed for Djibouti to be relieved by the BLANDY (DD-943) and TALBOT (FFG-4). MUX and VREELAND arrived in Djibouti on Christmas Eve and spent a quiet Christmas in Djibouti. The American consulate hosted a Christmas party that had all the traditional fixings and a live Scotch pine flown in from Yemen. The ships were relieved on the 26th and sailed for Port Suez, Egypt for northbound transit of the Suez Canal. The ships transited the Canal on the New Years Eve.

After stopping at Port Said for fuel, the two ships ran into heavy weather in the Mediterranean and were force to pull into Augusta Bay, Sicily for fuel and repairs to VREELANDís gun mount. Upon completion of refueling, the ships headed for Rota. During this leg, MULLINNIX conducted a full power run, reaching a top speed of 31.4 knots at 284 RPM. The rooster tail MUX created was very impressive. The ships reached Rota on 9 January for refueling. Their stay is extended a day due to an engineering casualty on the VREELAND. In order to returned to homeport in time, the ships were authorized to conduct an 18-knot transit of the Atlantic. They stopped in Azores (1/13) and Bermuda (1/18) for gas. The ships parted company upon leaving Bermuda -- MULLINNIX returning to Charleston and VREELAND to Mayport. The MUX sailed through a big storm west of Bermuda, which caused some minor flooding and damaged one of the communications antennas. The MULLINNIX returned to home on 20 January.

The MULLINNIX had a great wardroom that contributed to the successes the MULLINNIX achieved during deployment (high morale, minimal engineering problems, excellent performances during exercises, high watchstander qualification rate, diplomatic performance in Iran and southern Indian Ocean). Much of the credit must go to the CO, CDR Peter Labyak, who led with the right mixture of toughness, fairness, common sense, and a sense of humor.

Cover Mullinnix Cruise Book 1978-9


Navy Expeditionary Medal 4 Nov, 1979 (Courtsey John Dixon)

Click on image above to view pdf file (Courtesy of George Cochran)

Click on image above to view doc file (Courtesy of George Cochran)

Note: The Mullinnix Commissioning Plaque in the lower left-hand corner is missing! No shit!!! There are a number of items the feds recover from a ship (e.g. ship's bell, etc) after decommissioning. A ship's commissioning plaque is one of them. It is extremely rare when this item is missing. If you've seen it, contact Woody. It would be a great addition to the Mullinnix National Museum

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© 2003 by Frank Wood, All rights reserved.