Key point: An outgrowth of the Iran-Iraq War.

The orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff were clear: the Iranian frigate Sabalan must die.

On April 14, 1988, the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts had run into an Iranian mine while attempting to extricate herself from a minefield. The blast tore open a 21-foot long hole in her hull and wounded ten sailors. Only a heroic damage control effort kept the frigate afloat.

This was deemed the last straw after ten months of skirmishes between U.S. ships and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf.

It was by then the eighth bloody year of the Iran-Iraq War, in which Iran had taken to…

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