12 December 1970 – 6 August 1993
USS OUELLET (FF-1077) was the first ship of the United States Navy to bear the name of Seaman David George Ouellet. It was one of a Knox Class of frigates specifically designated to locate and destroy enemy submarines. OUELLET’s keel was laid at Avondale Shipyard Incorporated in Westwego, Louisiana on January 15, 1969. Delivered on December 3, 1970 and christened at Charleston Naval Shipyard, South Carolina on December 12, 1970.
OUELLET arrived at her homeport in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on April 15, 1971, with her first deployment to the Western Pacific commencing on January 27, 1972. OUELLET twice came under hostile fire during this deployment, however no causalities were sustained.
During ceremonies re-establishing the U.S. Third Fleet on February 1, 1973, USS OUELLET became the first Third Fleet flagship since World War II.
USS OUELLET made her second deployment to the Western Pacific from May through September 1973. She began her first regular overhaul on September 14, 1974, with completion on June 3, 1975. OUELLET was selected as the CINCPACFLT flagship for the U.S. Navy’s 200th birthday ceremonies. OUELLET completed two more Western Pacific deployments prior to overhaul in late 1978. Regular overhaul was completed mid 1979 with three Western Pacific deployments to follow commencing September 1980, April 1982, and October 1983 respectfully.
OUELLET began her third major overhaul in February 1985. She received extensive upgrades to her gun mount, received CIWS, and SNAP II computers. In 1986 OUELLET was again preparing for a Western Pacific deployment. OUELLET deployed for her eighth time in April 1987. This deployment took her with Battle Group Delta to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman for the Iran crisis. She returned to Pearl Harbor on October 6, 1987.
OUELLET started out 1988 with a special operation coordinated by the Coast guard to capture the CHRISTINA M, a cargo vessel laden with over 12 tons of marijuana. Instead of regular overhaul, OUELLET spent most of 1988 in a Ship’s Restricted Availability repairing and upgrading most of her systems. Following extensive training, OUELLET made her ninth deployment in mid December 1988. She returned on 26 May 89 to turn around and prepare to get underway again in September 89 for “Pacific Exercises 89″ (PAC EX 89).
Upon return to Pearl Harbor in November 1989 she went into dry dock, refloating in February of 1990. After extensive preparations and an exhaustive inspection cycle, OUELLET departed on August 1990 to Central America in support of law enforcement operations.
These operations, called “Legal OPS ’90” for short, included amongst the crew, a detachment of Coast Guard personnel to act as a legal “policing force” aboard the OUELLET. This was the first time that a Coast Guard flag flew from a U.S.Navy warship in operations such as these. In search for drug smugglers, the OUELLET recovered close to 1 ton of pure, unprocessed cocaine, which was jettisoned from an unknown vessel trying to elude authorities. While on “Legal OPS ’90” OUELLET transited through the Panama Canal with follow-on ports-of-call in Panama and Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. After returning in to Pearl Harbor in November of 1990 OUELLET was awarded the “Battle E” for overall excellence and the “Joint Meritorious Unit Citation” (JMUC).
In June of 1991, OUELLET participated in three phases of shipboard training for midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy, and “Anti-Submarine Operations 91″. Port calls made during this training period included visits to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Kodiak Island, Alaska. OUELLET crewmembers took advantage of this “in-port” time to celebrate our country’s birthday on the “4th of July.”
OUELLET’s final deployment was from March 25th to July 24th, 1992. This Western Pacific Rim journey was her 10th major deployment, and took the OUELLET to the Continent of Australia . While enroute, she participated in “Pacific ASW Exercise 92″, and operated with elements of the Australian Navy in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the “Battle of the Coral Sea”.
This was her final voyage as a United States Naval Ship, after serving her country proudly for over 20 years. USS OUELLET was decommissioned in August 3, 1993.
As of May, 1998, the former U.S.S. OUELLET serves the Royal Navy of Thailand as H.T.M.S. Phuttaloetla Naphalai, F-462 (Wikipedia).
Although the U.S.S. OUELLET no longer officially exists, she will always live in the memories of those who proudly served on her. As the OUELLET grew and matured throughout her life, so did the young men who served on her. She kept a changing family of almost 300 men, and still keeps many of us together today. As long as our memories remain, the U.S.S. OUELLET, and David George Ouellet, will live forever.