FFG 16 | USS CLIFTON SPRAGUE
Vice Admiral Clifton Albert Frederick
Upon commissioning on 21 March 1981, CLIFTON SPRAGUE became the sixth FFG 7 Class ship to join Destroyer Squadron Eight home ported in Mayport, Florida. During Combat Systems Ship Qualifications Trials from July to August 1981, CLIFTON SPRAGUE conducted a missile-firing exercise, scoring four out of four hits on target drones. This early success was a weather vane of future ship performances.
In June 1982, Commander Destroyer Squadron Eight presented the Battle Efficiency "E" Award to CLIFTON SPRAGUE. At just over a year in service, she became the first FFG 7 Class ship in the Atlantic Fleet to win this award.
On 10 November 1982, CLIFTON SPRAGUE headed south to assume duties as Caribbean Ready Ship, where she was called upon to assist other naval units during hostilities in Grenada.
CLIFTON SPRAGUE headed for her new home port of Philadelphia and service with the Naval Reserve Force, in November 1984. In January 1985, Commander Naval Surface Group Four presented a Meritorious Unit Commendation to CLIFTON SPRAGUE for outstanding performance during hostilities in Grenada.
The ship departed Philadelphia in February for READEX 1-85. During the hostilities phase of the exercise, CLIFTON SPRAGUE scored a perfect three out of three hits on target drones during a missile-firing exercise.
In April 1985, she sailed south to participate in Exercise UNIVERSAL TREK 85, stopping in Key West to embark a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment. Upon completion of the exercise, CLIFTON SPRAGUE proceeded to Mayport to prepare for Operation SOLID SHIELD. During the exercise, she rescued two Belgian Sailors from a life raft. In May 1985, she was awarded the COMNAVSURFLANT Battle Efficiency "E" Award.
In April 1986, CLIFTON SPRAGUE departed Philadelphia to participate in FLEETEX 2-86. The ship performed many duties during FLEETEX, including ASW, torpedo firing, and carrier escort with the USS FORRESTAL (CV 59).
On 4 November 1986, CLIFTON SPRAGUE was once again selected by COMNAVSURFLANT as the Battle Efficiency "E" Award winner for Naval Surface Group Four. This was the second consecutive Battle "E" awarded to the ship, and the third "E" in only five years since commissioning.
After an extensive overhaul period in Philadelphia, and Combat Systems Testing during the Spring and Summer of 1987, CLIFTON SPRAGUE departed Philadelphia in October 1987 for Central American operations, which included port visits in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Panama, Jamaica, and Honduras. In December, CLIFTON SPRAGUE received a Blue "E" Efficiency Award in all areas of supply.
1988 was marked by a high operational tempo, starting with Operation SAFE PASS in February. The exercise involved escorting freighters during simulated wartime conditions. In April, CLIFTON SPRAGUE participated in FLEET WEEK in New York City, where over 4,000 visitors toured the ship. CLIFTON SPRAGUE conducted a Chief of Naval Operations Special Operation in Panama City, Florida during May and June, which involved anti-mine warfare testing. The rest of the year was filled with Midshipmen Training, Vandal Missile Exercises, and Operation Propulsion Plant Examination preparations.
Shield: The blue and white zig-zag lines
allude to ocean waves which Admiral Sprague sailed over the course of
his naval career, and also his nickname "Ziggy." The lion is symbolic
of his ability as a commander of naval forces. The blue lightning bolt
refers to his command of support aircraft carriers and their
significance as a determining factor in World War II Pacific sea
battles. The three stars refer to the Admiral's rank, and to "Taffy 3,"
the task force Admiral Sprague commanded during the Battle of Samar
near the Philippines during World War II. They are placed on a red
field, indicating the courage he displayed during this battle.