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Hull Number: FFG-43

Launch Date: 12/18/1982

Commissioned Date: 03/17/1984

Decommissioned Date: 11/01/2013

Call Sign: NJST



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)

John Smith Thach (April 19, 1905 – April 15, 1981) was a World War II Naval Aviatorair combat tactician, and United States Navy admiral. Thach developed the Thach Weave, a combat flight formation which could counter enemy fighters of superior performance, and later the big blue blanket, an aerial defense against kamikaze attacks.

John S. Thach was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on April 19, 1905. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1927 and spent two years serving in battleships, before becoming a Naval Aviator in early 1930.[1] His USNA classmates included William BrockmanCreed Burlingame, and Eugene Lindsey.[2] Thach spent the next decade serving as a test pilot and instructor and establishing a reputation as an expert in aerial gunnery.[1]

In early 1940, Thach was placed in command of Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3). There he met a young ensign just out of flight school, Edward O’Hare, later a Medal of Honor recipient. Thach made O’Hare his wingman and taught him everything he knew. At the United States Navy fleet gunnery competition at the end of 1940, eight of the 16 VF-3 pilots qualified for the gunnery “E” award (“excellence”).

Later Thach developed a fighter combat tactic known as the Thach Weave.[1] This tactic enabled American fighter aircraft to hold their own against the more maneuverable Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the primary Imperial Japanese Navy fighter aircraft.

Lieutenant Commander Thach and VF-3 flew from USS Saratoga in the early part of World War II, and was assigned to USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway in June 1942.[3] On the morning of June 4, Thach led a six-plane sortie from VF-3, escorting twelve Douglas TBD Devastators of VT-3 led by Lieutenant Commander Lance Massey from Yorktown, when they discovered the main Japanese carrier fleet. They were immediately attacked by 15 to 20 Japanese fighters. Thach decided to use his namesake maneuver, marking its first combat usage. Although outnumbered and outmaneuvered, Thach managed to shoot down three Zeros and a wingman accounted for another, at the cost of one Grumman F4F Wildcat.[4][5]

After Midway, Thach was assigned to instruct other pilots in combat tactics. The United States Navy pulled its best combat pilots out of action to train newer pilots, while the Japanese kept their best pilots in combat. As the war progressed, the Japanese Navy lost their experienced pilots due to attrition and had no well-trained replacements, while the United States was able to improve the general fighting ability of their own personnel. When the Japanese resorted to the feared Kamikaze suicide attacks, Thach developed the “big blue blanket” system to provide an adequate defense.

Later in the war, Commander Thach became operations officer to Vice Admiral John S. McCain Sr., commander of the Fast Carrier Task Force.[1] Thach was also present at the formal Japanese surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

Thach was a flying ace, having been credited with shooting down six enemy aircraft during World War II.[6]

Thach commanded USS Sicily during the Korean War and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1953–54.[1] He was promoted to rear admiral in 1955.

In 1958 and 1959, Thach was placed in command of an antisubmarine development unit, “Task Group Alpha”, with the aircraft carrier Valley Forge (CVS-45) serving as his flagship.[1] He subsequently appeared on the cover of Time magazine on September 1, 1958, for his contributions to anti-submarine warfare (ASW),[7] which was a primary focus at the time in the ongoing Cold War. An annual award was later established in his name for presentation to the top ASW squadron in the navy.

Thach was promoted to vice admiral in 1960[6] and served as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air in the Pentagon,[8] where he presided over development of the A-7 Corsair II, among other naval aviation programs. As Commander in Chief, United States Naval Forces Europe, starting in 1965, he pinned on his fourth star as a full admiral, retiring from the Navy in May 1967 from that position.[9]

The Arkansas Aviation Historical Society inducted Thach into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1981.

Thach died on April 15, 1981, in Coronado, California, four days before his 76th birthday, and was buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.[10]

The frigate Thach (FFG-43) was named in his honor.[1]

Thach and his wife Madalynn had four children.[10]

USS THATCH FFG-43 Ship History

Wikipedia (as of 2024)

USS Thach (FFG-43), an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, was the only ship of the United States Navy named for Admiral John Thach, a Naval Aviator during World War II, who invented the Thach Weave dogfighting tactic.

Thach was laid down on 6 March 1981 by the Todd Pacific Shipyards, Los Angeles DivisionSan PedroCalifornialaunched on 18 December 1982; sponsored by Mrs. Madalyn J. Thach, widow of the namesake; and commissioned on 17 March 1984 at Long Beach.[2][3]

Thachs mission was to provide anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine protection for carrier battle groups, naval expeditionary forces, replenishment groups, convoys, and other military and merchant shipping. The new direction for the naval service remained focused on the ability to project power from the sea in the critical littoral regions for the world.[4]

Success in the warfare environment of the 1990s and beyond required thorough evaluation, rapid decision-making and almost instantaneous response to any postulated threat. The systems aboard Thach were designed to meet these demanding and dynamic prerequisites, and to do so with minimum human interface. The Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk‘s video data link system brought state-of-the-art computer technology to the warfare arena, as well as integrating sensors and weapons to provide a total offensive and defensive weapons system.[4]

In addition, computers controlled and monitored the gas turbine engines (the same engines installed on DC-10 aircraft) and electrical generators. Digital electronic logic circuits and remotely operated valves were monitored in Central Control Station which initiated engine start and resulted in a “ready to go” status in less than ten minutes.[4]

In 1986, the ship, part of Destroyer Squadron 21, deployed to the Western Pacific as part of a battleship battle group led by New Jersey.[5]

Thach was the command ship of Operation Nimble Archer, the 19 October 1987 attack on two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf by United States Navy forces. The attack was a response to Iran’s missile attack three days earlier on MV Sea Isle City, a reflagged Kuwaiti oil tanker at anchor off Kuwait. The action occurred during Operation Earnest Will, the effort to protect Kuwaiti shipping amid the Iran–Iraq War.

In late 2006 while deployed to the Southern Pacific, Thach caught fire as she attempted to put out a fire on a drug smuggling ship.[citation needed]

Thach was decommissioned at Naval Base San Diego on 1 November 2013. The ship was homeported in San Diego and was part of Destroyer Squadron 23.[6] She was sunk on July 14, 2016, during the major naval exercise RIMPAC 2016.[7]