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The Captain of a Navy Frigate Saved His Sinking Ship by Not Fighting a Fire


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Cmdr. Paul X. Rinn was in command of the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts as it sailed into the Persian Gulf in 1988. His vessel's mission was to join Operation Earnest Will, the largest naval convoy since World War II, escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers and protecting them from Iranian attacks.

As the Roberts moved to resupply on April 14 of that year, it struck a mine that blew a 20-foot hole in its hull and started a massive fire aboard the ship. Rinn's frigate was suddenly faced with two problems, each equally fatal to the vessel and the more than 200 sailors and aviators aboard.

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