USS CURTS (FFG 38) was commissioned 8 October 1983 after construction at the Todd Pacific Shipyard, San Pedro, California. The first years in commission were focused on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, as CURTS was the first Pacific Fleet unit with the complete SQQ-89 ASW Suite. CURTS served in Destroyer Squadron 31 -- the ASW squadron -- from 1985 until mid-1987. She received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for brilliant performance in the tracking of Soviet submarines in 1987, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for serving with the MISSOURI battle group in 1988 during Operation Earnest Will in the North Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.
On 1 June 1988, CURTS departed Long Beach, California for a homeport change to Yokosuka, Japan, becoming one of the first two FFG’s to join the Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF). The CURTS and her sister ship also brought the first LAMPS MK III helicopters to Naval Air Facility, Atsugi. Her first mission was Operation Desert Shield, where she commenced maritime interception operations, checking merchant traffic to ensure compliance with the United Nations sanction on good shipped to Iraq. Enroute, the ship rescued 50 Vietnamese refugees from a disabled fishing vessel adrift for ten days.
CURTS participated in nearly all naval combat operations during Operation Desert Storm. On 24 January 1991, the ship and her embarked Navy and Army helicopters captured an Iraqi garrison on Qaruh Island in the Northern Arabian Gulf, taking the island and 51 Iraqi prisoners. Additionally, CURTS destroyed two mines, sank an Iraqi minelayer and seized a wealth of intelligence materials that same day.
Support of combat helicopter operations during Battle of Bubiyan Island and escort for the battleships USS MISSOURI and USS WISCONSIN during Naval Gunfire Support missions were equally demanding. Assignment to the mine countermeasures escort force for the amphibious feint off Faylakah Island kept every crewmember on edge until the cease-fire was declared. Rejoining the Midway battle group, CURTS returned to homeport on 17 April. A Navy Unit Commendation was received for membership in the Arabian Gulf Battle Force. While assigned in support of Operation Desert Storm, CURTS was announced as the winner of the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy as the most improved command in the entire Pacific Fleet for fiscal year 1990.
CURTS evacuated 547 civilians to safety when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991 near Subic Bay, Republic of Philippines during Operations Fiery Vigil. In the latter half of 1992, CURTS completed extensive joint Navy exercises with Korean, Australian, and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF)navies. During these exercises, CURTS had the opportunity to make port calls in Korea and Australia.
In 1993, while in dry-dock, CURTS received the 4100 ton class modification, extending her stern another eight feet and enhancing her combat capabilities immensely. In October 1993, CURTS joined the USS INDEPENDENCE battle group to participate with the JMSDF in the joint anti-submarine warfare exercise MAREX. On 17 November, CURTS steamed out of Yokosuka with the INDEPENDENCE battle group for a Middle East deployment. In January 1994, the ship conducted 89 boarding of merchant vessels in the Red Sea, enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq. CURTS also rescued the crew and livestock cargo of a merchant vessel stranded in the Northern Arabian Sea in February 1994. A few months later, she participated in RIMPAC 94, one of the largest naval exercises in the world today. CURTS received the Seventh Fleet Battle Efficiency Award for 1994.
In 1995, CURTS participated in major joint exercises with units of the U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), and later with the navies of Singapore and Subic Bay. She also drew national and international media attention when she rescued 10 sea turtles entangled in an abandoned fishing net. She later worked with Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore for 1996 Cooperation Afloat for Readiness and Training (CARAT 96). IN 1997, CURTS participated in Operation Tandem Thrust, a U.S. Australian multi-service exercise held within Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Finally, on 11 July 1997, after nine years of forward presence as part of Seventh Fleet, CURTS departed Yokosuka, Japan for a homeport change to San Diego, California.
In 1998, CURTS conducted exercises with the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Navies, and participated in Teamwork South 98, which involved the Chilean military and the British and Canadian Navies. She later participated in RIMPAC 98 and in October 1998, CURTS joined the Naval Reserve Force (NRF)
CURTS’ next assignment was a six-month Counter-drug Operations deployment in the Easter Pacific and Caribbean Sea ending in February 2000. CURTS’ aggressive pursuit of drug traffickers led to the interception of over 5 tons of Cocaine. CURTS’ most recent assignment was her second CARAT cruise ending in August 2001. During CARAT 01, CURTS conducted multi-lateral exercises with the navies of Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines in order to promote international training amongst navies.
CURTS’ next assignment was her third CARAT cruise, ending in August 2003. During CARAT 2003, CURTS conducted multi-lateral exercises with the navies of Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia in order to promote international training amongst navies. CURTS' next assignment will be another Counter-drug Operations deployment commencing in August 2003.
In 2004, CURTS again deployed to Southern Command on a six –month counter-narcotics deployment and received national notoriety for the largest maritime seizure of cocaine (12 tons) in history. The ship received the U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Citation for her outstanding performance during deployment.
In 2006, CURTS took part in a third counter-narcotics deployment. Over the course of six months, CURTS conducted 3 boardings, transferred over 50 suspected drug traffickers, recovered 3 tons of cocaine, and was awarded the Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbon. CURTS won the 2006 Battle Efficiency Award.
In 2008, CURTS deployed to U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operation supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism.