18 April

Operation Praying Mantis was an attack on this day in 1988, by U.S. forces within Iranian territorial waters in retaliation for the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq war and the subsequent damage to an American warship.

On 14 April, the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine while deployed in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, the 1987–88 convoy missions in which U.S. warships escorted Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. The explosion blew a 15-foot hole in Samuel B. Robertss hull and nearly sank it. The crew saved their ship with no loss of life, and Samuel B. Roberts was towed to Dubai on 16 April. After the mining, U.S. Navy divers recovered other mines in the area. When the serial numbers were found to match those of mines seized along with the Iran Ajr the previous September, U.S. military officials planned a retaliatory operation against Iranian targets in the Persian Gulf.

 

This battle was the largest major U.S. surface engagement since the Second World War and also marked the U.S. Navy’s first exchange of anti-ship missiles by opposing ships.

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Samuel B. Roberts is carried away aboard Mighty Servant 2 after hitting a mine in the Persian Gulf.