Reuben James was born in Delaware, Ohio in 1775. A veteran of the quasi-war with France (during which he was captured), James saved the life of Lieutenant Stephen Decatur.
It was during the infamous Barbary Wars that the American frigate PHILADELPHIA was captured by the Barbary pirates. Having run aground in the pirate capital of Tripoli on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the crew had to abandon ship and formulate a plan of attack. LT Decatur, along with a group of volunteers which included Boatswain's Mate Reuben James, entered Tripoli harbor under the cover of darkness in an attempt to set the PHILADELPHIA on fire so the pirates could not make use of her.
The American volunteers boarded the PHILADELPHIA on February 16, 1804 and were met by a group of the savage Barbary pirates who were guarding their prize. A furious battle ensued, and during the the bloody chaos of hand-to-hand combat, a villainous pirate made ready to end the life of LT Decatur. Reuben James, with both of his hands already wounded, in an act of selfless dedication and courage did throw his hand before the cleaving blade! Willing to give his life in defense of his captain, Reuben James took the blow from the scimitar. This courageous intervention allowed Decatur to retrieve his pistol and slay his assailant.
Boatswain's Mate James continued to serve under Decatur onboard the frigates CONSTITUTION and CONGRESS. During the War of 1812, he served in the frigates UNITED STATES and PRESIDENT, the latter captured by four British ships on January 15, 1815. Taken prisoner, James was released after peace was declared and went on to serve in USS GUERRIERE, again under Captain Decatur.
With the cessation of war with Britain, the battles against the Barbary States resumed and on June 17, 1815, GUERRIERE engaged and defeated the Algerian flagship MASHOUDA, a victory that was instrumental in ending the Barbary Wars.
Wounded three times during his wartime service, Boatswain's Mate James was compelled to to retire in 1836 because of declining health and the loss of one leg. He died on December 3, 1838 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Washington, DC.
Current USS Reuben James
USS Reuben James (FFG 57) was laid down on November 19, 1983 and she was commissioned into the Fleet under the command of CDR John J. Kieley, III on March 22, 1986. Initially assigned to Surface Squadron ONE during post-commissioning trials and shakedown, Reuben James joined the Red Stallions of Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-ONE in June 1987.
Assigned to Mideast Force on her maiden deployment, Reuben James participated in twenty-two Operation Ernest Will convoy missions, serving as the convoy commander's flagship on ten of those missions. As a unit of the Pacific Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness Squadron, she was a key participant in the continuing research and development of anti-submarine tactics and equipment, a fitting role in tribute to the men of the first Reuben James.
In August 1991, Reuben James moved from Long Beach, California to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On October 1, 1998, she joined the "Ke Koa O Ke Kai", Destroyer Squadron THIRTY- ONE.
For nine months from July 2002 to April 2003, Reuben James deployed to the Arabian Gulf and participated in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. From February-April 2004, she deployed to the Eastern Pacific in support of counter-drug operations. In August 2002 USS Reuben James departed with the Lincoln Battle Group, in support of Maritime Intercept Operations (MIO), and Operation Enduring Freedom. In April 2003 USS Reuben James returned to Pearl Harbor following over nine months at sea, the ship’s longest deployment in 30 years. In October 2003 USS Reuben James and the French frigate FS Prarial (F 371) conducted a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) together in the Hawaii operational area.
In February 2004 USS Reuben James departed to perform counter-drug operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In April USS Reuben James (FFG 57) returned to her homeport. During the deployment, she rescued 149 Ecuadorian men, women and children from the sinking motor vessel (MV) Margyl Margarita March 30, returning them safely to Ecuador. Between July-December 2004, Reuben James went through an extensive modernization and maintenance program, ensuring that she will always be ready to respond when the mission bell tolls.
In February 2005 USS Reuben James was fitted with Man Overboard Identification (MOBI) Systems.
In February 2006 USS Reuben James departed for a six-month Western Pacific deployment with the USS Peleliu (LHA 5) Expeditionary Strike Group Three (ESG-3), in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). In June the guided-missile frigate assisted a distressed dhow with two Kenyans aboard while conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Arabian Sea. In July Reuben James, part of the USS Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, concluded operations in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet Area of Operations.
In August 2007 USS Reuben James returned to Naval Station Pearl Harbor after completing a six-month deployment.
In February 2008 FFG 57 returned to Pearl Harbor after a six-month underway period. In April USS Reuben James departed homeport for a surge deployment in the western Pacific, as part of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) CSG. In September USS Reuben James departed Pearl Harbor for a Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment. After participating in Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines and multi-national exercises ANNUALEX 20G and SHAREM 159 in December, USS Reuben James returned to homeport.
In April 2009 The guided-missile frigate returned to Pearl Harbor after a routine training exercises in the Pacific Ocean.
In January 2010 USS Reuben James departed Naval Station Pearl Harbor for a patrols and humanitarian aid missions in the western Pacific. In April the Reuben James participated in a semiannual exercise Multi-Sail along with ships assigned to the forward deployed naval forces (FDNF) Japan. In June USS Reuben James returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after four-and-a-half month independent deployment. In July FFG 57 participated in a multinational exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010, in the waters off Hawaii.
In February 2011 USS Reuben James departed homeport for a western Pacific deployment. In February the guided-missile frigate conducted Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) patrols in the western and Coastal Pacific Ocean (WCPO) in support of U.S. Coast Guard’s law enforcement operations. In April USS Reuben James participated in exercise Malabar 2011. In May FFG 57 participated in the first phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise. In June USS Reuben James returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after a five-month underway period.
In March 2012 USS Reuben James participated in integrated training exercise "Koa Kai 12-2", off the coast of Hawaii. In July FFG 57 participated in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 in the waters off Hawaii. In October USS Reuben James departed Pearl Harbor for its last western Pacific deployment. In November the Reuben James participated in exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).
USS Reuben James appeared in the movie "The Hunt For Red October" and was the first ship to find Soviet Submarine Captain Marko Raimius and his crew of defectors. Of course, the Soviet Sailors who stood on her foc'sle were not really Soviets - they were actually Reuben James crew members. Actor Peter Jason played the role of Reuben James' Commanding Officer. Reuben James also had a prominent role in the book Red Storm Rising.
1st USS Reuben James
The first USS Reuben James (DD 245) was laid down on April 2, 1919, launched on October 4, 1919 and commissioned on September 24, 1920 with Commander Gordon W. Hines as the commanding officer. DD245 was a post-World War I four stack destroyer with a crew of 101. She was capable of 35 knots and brandished a main armament of four 4-inch guns, a single 3-inch gun and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
In October 1921 Reuben James escorted USS Olympic (C-6) across the Alantic bringing the American Unknown Soldier for reburial at Arlington National Cemetery. This WWI soldier was the first Unknown to be buried at Arlington.
Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Reuben James saw duty in the Mediterranean from 1921 to 1922. Based then at New York, she patrolled the Nicaraguan coast to prevent the delivery of weapons to revolutionaries in early 1926. DD245 was decommissioned at Philadelphia on January 20, 1931.
Recommissioned on March 9, 1932, she again operated in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, patrolling Cuban waters during the Cuban revolution. She transferred to San Diego, California in 1934 and returned to the Atlantic Fleet in January 1939. Upon the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, she joined the Neutrality Patrol and guarded the Atlantic and Caribbean approaches to the American coast. She was assigned to Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-ONE in 1941.
In March 1941, Reuben James, commanded by LCDR H.L. Edwards, joined the convoy escort force established to promote the safe arrival of war materials to Britain. This escort force guarded convoys as far as Iceland, where they became the responsibility of British escorts. Based at Hvalfjordur, Iceland, she sailed from Argentia, Newfoundland October 23, 1941, with four other destroyers to escort the eastbound convoy HX-56.
While escorting the convoy, at about 5:25am, October 31, 1941, Reuben James was torpedoed by German Submarine U-552. She had positioned herself between an ammunition ship in the convoy and the known position of a German U-Boat Wolfpack. Her magazine exploded and she sank quickly. Of the crew, 44 survived and 115 died. All officers including the Commanding Officer were lost. Reuben James was the first U.S. Navy ship lost during World War II.
2nd USS Reuben James The second USS Reuben James (DE 153) was laid down on September 7, 1942, launched on February 6, 1943 and commissioned on April 1, 1943 with LCDR Frank D. Giambattista as the commanding officer. DE153 was a Buckley Class destroyer escort with a crew of 213, capable of 23.5 knots. She had a main armament of two 5-inch guns, three 3-inch guns and three 21-inch torpedo tubes.
First based at Miami, Florida, Reuben James conducted anti-submarine patrols and provided training in convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare. In March 1944, she shifted her base from Miami to Norfolk, Virginia. In June 1944, she escorted a convoy from New York to Norfolk.
Between July 13 and November 7, 1944, she escorted two convoys to the Mediterranean, returning with westbound convoys. During her first eastbound voyage, nine German bombers attacked her convoy off Algeria on August 1, 1944. Reuben James shot down one enemy bomber.
Returning to Boston, she joined an anti-submarine group operating in the North Atlantic. Operating south of Newfoundland, she was present when USS Buckley (DE 51) sank German Submarine U-879 on April 19, 1945.
Arriving at Houston, Texas on July 4, 1945, she completed conversion to a radar picket ship on November 25, 1945. Subsequently, she operated in the Atlantic and the Caribbean out of Norfolk, Virginia, then was decommissioned on October 11, 1947. She remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until she was struck from the Navy List on June 30, 1968. Her hulk was used as a target and sunk on March 1, 1971.