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Hull Number: FFG-15

Launch Date: 11/03/1979

Commissioned Date: 01/10/1981

Decommissioned Date: 04/03/2003

Call Sign: NMJE



Length Overall: 445'

Beam: 45'

Draft: 24' 6"


1-3″ 1-Standard-SAM Harpoon-SSM 6-12.75″T LAMPS




40,000 SHP, 2 G. E. LM-2500 gas turbines, 1 screw

Highest speed on trials: 28.5 knots



Wikipedia (as of 2024)

Michael John Estocin (April 27, 1931 – April 26, 1967 (presumed)) was a United States Navy officer and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Estocin was born on April 27, 1931, in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania,.[1] He graduated from Slippery Rock State Teachers College in 1954.[2]

Estocin entered the Naval Aviation Cadet program on June 11, 1954, and was commissioned in September 1955.[2][3]

By April 20, 1967, Estocin had reached the rank of lieutenant commander[3] and was an A-4 Skyhawk pilot[1] in Attack Squadron 192, operating off of the USS Ticonderoga in the Gulf of Tonkin. On that day, he supported a bombing mission over HaiphongNorth Vietnam.[3]

Six days later, on April 26, he supported another strike aimed at Haiphong’s thermal power station, with John B. Nichols acting as his escort in an F-8 Crusader. Estocin and Nichols flew ahead of the main attack and were charged with suppressing any surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in the area. The strike on the power plant went without incident, and the two pilots were about to head back to the Ticonderoga when Estocin detected an active SAM site. A single missile was launched from the site and exploded near his A-4, knocking it into a barrel roll. Estocin was able to regain control and pulled the aircraft, burning at the belly and wing roots, into a 30 degree dive.[1]

Estocin’s wingman, John Nichols, immediately called for a helicopter rescue. He flew beside the stricken plane, getting close enough to see Estocin in the cockpit with his head bent forward slightly, not moving. He tried to contact Estocin by radio but received no response. As the A-4 lost altitude and entered a cloud bank, Nichols continued to follow it, even as a second SAM exploded nearby. After reaching 600 feet (180 m), he leveled off and watched as Estocin’s plane fired its remaining Shrike missiles and impacted with the ground. He circled the area, looking for a parachute, but saw nothing. Nichols called off the rescue mission and returned to the Ticonderoga.[1]

Although Nichols was certain Estocin had been killed in the crash, intelligence from Hanoi indicated that he had ejected and been captured. The U.S. military declared him a prisoner of war, causing Nichols to feel deep guilt for having called off the rescue mission. When the prisoners were released in 1973 and Estocin was not among them, it was presumed that he had died in captivity.[1]

In 1993, a committee investigating the cases of missing U.S. military personnel concluded that Estocin was never captured and had indeed died in the crash of his plane.[1] Estocin’s disappearance and presumed death occurred one day before his 36th birthday.[3] A marker in his memory was placed in Fort Rosecrans National CemeterySan Diego, California.

Medal of Honor Citation

Captain Estocin’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 20 and 26 April 1967 as a pilot in Attack Squadron 192, embarked in USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). Leading a 3-plane group of aircraft in support of a coordinated strike against two thermal power plants in Haiphong, North Vietnam, on 20 April 1967, Capt. Estocin provided continuous warnings to the strike group leaders of the surface-to-air missile (SAM) threats, and personally neutralized 3 SAM sites. Although his aircraft was severely damaged by an exploding missile, he reentered the target area and relentlessly prosecuted a SHRIKE attack in the face of intense antiaircraft fire. With less than 5 minutes of fuel remaining he departed the target area and commenced in-flight refueling which continued for over 100 miles. Three miles aft of Ticonderoga, and without enough fuel for a second approach, he disengaged from the tanker and executed a precise approach to a fiery arrested landing. On 26 April 1967, in support of a coordinated strike against the vital fuel facilities in Haiphong, he led an attack on a threatening SAM site, during which his aircraft was seriously damaged by an exploding SAM; nevertheless, he regained control of his burning aircraft and courageously launched his SHRIKE missiles before departing the area. By his inspiring courage and unswerving devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, Captain Estocin upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.[3]


Naval Reserve Force ship 9/30/1986. Stricken 4/3/2003. To Turkey.

USS ESTOCIN FFG-15 Ship History

Wikipedia (as of 2024)

USS Estocin (FFG-15), ninth ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry class of guided-missile frigates, was named for Captain Michael John Estocin (1931–1967). Ordered from Bath Iron Works on 27 February 1976 as part of the FY76 program, Estocin was laid down on 2 April 1979, launched on 3 November 1979, and commissioned on 10 January 1981.

Estocin (FFG-15) was the first ship of that name in the US Navy. The ship’s motto, listed on her crest, was “Courage, Honor, Tenacity”.[3]Estocin was sponsored by Michael John Estocin‘s widow, Mrs Quay Marie (Hampton) Estocin. Their three daughters served as maids of honor at the ceremonial launching and christening.[4]

After her commissioning, Estocin was assigned to Destroyer Squadron Eight, homeported in Mayport, Florida. While there, she made deployments to the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and participated in Special Operations off the Central American coast.[5]

Estocin and her crew were awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for operations near Lebanon between 10 October and 10 November 1982.[6] See also Multinational Force in Lebanon.

15 October 1985 Estocin ran aground near Key West, Florida.[7]

Throughout 1986, Estocin served as the Navy’s testbed for the Mk-92 Fire Control System improvement project (CORT). The Mk-92 “CORT” program was a CNO Priority-1 Project, one of the only four in the entire Navy at that time. These tests had Estocin tracking and engaging a variety of surface and air targets. Fifteen SM-1 medium range missiles and nearly 1000 rounds of 76mm ammunition were fired in the course of the test cycle. By the end of 1986, Estocin had logged nearly 15,000 underway miles in support of this project.[5] Estocin and her crew were awarded a Secretary of the Navy Letter of Commendation for operations between January and November, 1986.[6]

On 1 October 1986, Estocin officially became part of the Naval Reserve Force (NRF) reported to Naval Surface Warfare Group Four, homeported in Philadelphia, PA. Upon joining the NRF, Estocin operated primarily in the western Atlantic in support of Naval Reserve Training (NRT) and active fleet commitments. She logged frequent underway weekends devoted entirely to Selected Reserve crew training, as well as periodic underway periods of 2-week duration to enable reservists to complete their active duty training requirements. These operations took Estocin as far north as Nova Scotia and south to the Caribbean.[5]

Estocin and her crew were awarded a United States Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon for operations July to September, 1989.[6]

Estocin was chosen to conduct a Great Lakes Cruise in 1991 in support of U.S. Navy recruiting efforts and to promote public awareness in America’s heartland, through port calls to U.S. and Canadian cities on the Great Lakes. In the fall of 1991 and the spring of 1992, Estocin participated in Canadian Fleet Operations conducted with U.S. Navy and Canadian Maritime Command units in the area south of Nova Scotia.[5]

Estocin and her crew were awarded a Battle Effectiveness Award for operations in 1992.[6]

On 17 August 1992, Estocin changed homeport to Newport, RI. Estocin completed Maritime Interdiction Operations in the Caribbean and in December 1993 operated off the coast of Haiti during Operation Support Democracy. In January 1994, Estocin again changed her homeport moving to Naval Base, Norfolk, VA. Estocin was again selected for a Great Lakes Cruise in the summer of 1994. Upon completion of this cruise, she underwent a four-month drydock period to inspect and overhaul numerous shipboard systems. After completion of this drydocking, Estocin was sent in the fall of 1995 to the Caribbean in support of Counter Drug Operations. During this cruise, Estocin transited the Panama Canal to conduct Counter Drug Operations in the eastern Pacific as well.[5]

In 1996, after completing a work-up cycle, which included re-certification of her propulsion plant and cruise missile tactical qualification, Estocin deployed with Destroyer Squadron Eighteen in support of Operation Northern Light-Bright Horizon 96. During this fast-paced month and a half commitment, Estocin participated in a variety of maneuvering and training exercises with over 53 ships and submarines from 13 European nations. Upon her return to Norfolk, Estocin entered an availability period to prepare ship’s systems for her next commitment, Joint Task Force Exercise 97-1 (JTFEX 97–1). During this exercise Estocin was the flagship for the Opposing Forces (OPFOR), whose mission was to train the deploying carrier battle group. Although composed of U.S. ships, the OPFOR simulated a variety of patrol boats found throughout the world. Successfully training the battle group, Estocin prepared for her next deployment.[5]

Assigned to Cruiser Destroyer Group Eight, Estocin deployed for Baltic Operations 97 (BALTOPS 97) in May 1997. The deployment entailed at-sea operations with ships from NATO countries as well as non-NATO countries such as Russia, Poland and Lithuania. BALTOPS 97 also included goodwill visits to former Eastern-Bloc nations. During this deployment, Estocin had the unique opportunity to become the first U.S. warship to visit two Russian ports in the same deployment, with stops in Baltiysk and Severomorsk, Russia. In addition, Estocin had the distinct privilege of hosting the Admirals of the Russian Baltic and Northern Fleets during her port calls.[5]

January 1999 found Estocin deploying for the Caribbean. Once again in support of Counter Drug Operations, Estocin set the standard in curbing the flow of drugs into the United States. After four and a half months in the Caribbean, including a cocaine seizure of over 400 kg (880 lb), Estocin returned home on 15 May.[5]

Estocin was underway once again at the end of June 1999 to participate in INDEX 99-2 with the USS John F. Kennedy Battle Group. During this exercise, Estocin simulated Opposing Forces during Harpoon, Anti Air Warfare, and Anti Submarine Warfare exercises. Estocin proved her battle readiness in all areas as she conducted multiple PACFIRES with her 76mm gun, launched two Mk 46 Torpedoes and fired three successful SM-1 engagements. After achieving her best battle readiness condition in over four years, Estocin returned to Norfolk in July to conduct a nine-week Restricted Availability (RAV).[5]

After this maintenance period and successful training cycle workups, Estocin sailed late November 1999 to support preparing the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group for deployment as an Opposition Force in JTFEX 00-1. She also participated in INDEX 99-3, which allowed training in all warfare areas for the crew. At the completion of the JTFEX, Estocin was chosen by Commander, Second Fleet to perform a bilateral exercise with two French Navy ships, the French cruiser Jeanne d’Arc and frigate Georges Leygues. This exercise provided valuable training for the midshipmen embarked on Jeanne d’Arc and helped to further strengthen the strong Naval ties with this NATO ally.[5]

As of 2000, Estocin was in homeport, Norfolk, VA, preparing for upcoming exercises including: a group sail under the command of Commander, Destroyer Squadron Fourteen; a UNITAS exercise with ships from the Venezuelan, Colombian, and U.S. navies; and participation with Brazilian and other nation naval units in honor of the 500th anniversary of the founding of Brazil in April 2000.[5]

Estocin and her crew were awarded a Battle Effectiveness Award for operations in 2000.[8]

On 14 May 2001, Estocin returned to homeport in Norfolk, Virginia after a five-month deployment to the Caribbean, including again Operation UNITAS.[8]

Estocin and USS Samuel Eliot Morison swapped crews in late February 2002 (with one junior officer deemed crucial to Estocin’s operation to transfer that remained with that Estocin through the crew swap). Both frigates were scheduled to decommission in 2002, but following 11 September 2001, Navy leadership decided it might be advantageous to retain one of the two short hulled frigates. Estocin had already reduced crew size nearly 40% preparing to decommission in support of a planned ship transfer to the Republic of Turkey that had been already approved by Congress. Yet, she was the more recently modernized of the two frigates which was why the Republic of Turkey was interested in that Foreign Military Sale (FMS). The U.S. changed the FMS offer to Turkey with the Former Samuel Eliot Morison at a reduced price to the original FMS offer of Estocin. Former Samuel Eliot Morison sailors were then transferred to serve on Estocin and their ship was decommissioned 11 April 2002 with the former Estocin skeleton crew.[9] Estocin was decommissioned at Mayport and stricken a year later on 3 April 2003.[10] She was the last short-hulled FFG operational with the US Navy.[11]

On 3 April 2003, Estocin was decommissioned, stricken from the Navy list and transferred to Turkey as that nation’s TCG Göksu (F 497). As of 2022, she is still in active service.