On May 17, 1987, the USS Stark (FFG 31) was struck by two Exocet anti-ship missiles fired from an Iraqi Mirage aircraft during the Iran-Iraq War, killing 37 Sailors and wounding 21.

Listed are the Sailors killed in the line of duty while serving in USS Stark:

SN Doran H. Bolduc, Lacey, WA
BM1 Braddi O. Brown, Calera, AL
FC3 Jeffrey L. Calkins, Richfield Springs, NY
SN Mark R. Caouette, Fitchburg, MA
SN John A. Ciletta, Jr., Brigantine, NJ
SR Brian M. Clinefelter, San Bernardino, CA
OS3 Antonio A. Daniels, Greeleyville, SC
ET3 Christopher DeAngelis, Dumont, NJ
IC3 James S. Dunlap, Osceola Mills, PA
STGSN Steven T. Erwin, Troy, MI
RM2 Jerry Boyd Farr, Charleston, SC
QMCS Vernon T. Foster, Jacksonville, FL
RMSA Dexter D. Grissett, Macon, GA
FC3 William R. Hansen, Reading, MA
GMG3 Daniel Homicki, Elizabeth, NJ
OSSN Kenneth D. Janusik, Jr., Clearwater, FL
OS1 Steven E. Kendall, Honolulu, HI
EMCS Stephen Kiser, Elkhart, IN
SM1 Ronnie G. Lockett, Bessemer, AL
GMM1 Thomas J. MacMullen, Darby, PA
EW3 Charles T. Moller, Columbus, GA
OS3 Lee Stephens, Pemberton, OH
SA Jeffrei L. Phelps, Locust Grove, VA
DS1 Randy E. Pierce, Choctaw, OK
GM3 James Plonsky, Van Nuys, CA
ET3 Kelly R. Quick, Linden, MI
SMSN Earl P. Ryals, Boca Raton, FL
FCCS Robert L. Shippee, Adams Center, NY
SMSA Jeffrey C. Sibley, Metairie, LA
BM2 James R. Stevens, Visalia, CA
ET3 Martin J. Supple, Jacksonville, FL
FC1 Gregory L. Tweady, Champaign, IL
SN Vincent L. Ulmer, Bay Minette, AL
EW3 Joseph P. Watson, Ferndale, MI
ET3 Wayne R. Weaver, II, New Bethlehem, PA
OSSN Terrance Weldon, Coram, NY
IC2 Lloyd A. Wilson, Summerville, SC

The following timeline of events was taken from USNI News:

The Stark’s commanding officer. Captain Glenn R. Brindel was informed of the lraqi aircraft`s presence by at least 2005, when the aircraft was about 200 nautical miles away.

Lieutenant Basil E. Moncrief was on watch in the Stark‘s combat information center (CIC), serving as tacti­cal action officer (TAO). Captain Brindel stopped in the CIC at about 2015 and was reminded about the Iraqi air­craft.

On the bridge at 2055, Captain Brindel asked why there was no radar picture of the Iraqi aircraft. The CIC re­sponded by switching the SPS-49 air-search radar to the 80-mile mode. The aircraft was acquired 70 miles out at 2058.

Lieutenant Moncrief was informed that the aircraft would have a four-nautical-mile closest point of approach (CPA) at 2102. Also at 2102, the radar signature of the Mirage’s Cyrano-IV air-intercept radar was detected, anti for several seconds the radar locked on to the Stark. At 2103, the SPS-49 operator requested permission from Lieutenant Moncrief to transmit a standard warning to the F-1. Moncrief said, “No, wait.”

Two minutes later, at 2105, the F-1 turned toward the Stark at 32.5 nautical miles out. It was on a virtual con­stant bearing, decreasing range, but this move was missed by the Stark‘s CIC. The first missile was launched at 2107, 22.5 nautical miles from the Stark.

The forward lookout saw the missile launch, but it was first identified as a surface contact. Lieutenant Moncrief finally observed the F-1 course change at 2107. Captain Brindel was called, but could not be found.

The weapons control officer (WCO) console was manned, and at 2108 the Stark contacted the F-1 on the military air distress frequency, requesting identity. At that moment, however, the Iraqi pilot was firing his second Exocet. The electronic warfare technician at the SLQ-32 console heard the F-1’s Cyrano-IV again lock on to the Stark. The lock-on signal ceased after seven to ten sec­onds. Permission was given at this time to arm the super rapid blooming offboard chaff (SRBOC) launchers. A second warning was radioed to the F-1 at about 2108, and the Stark‘s Phalanx Gatling gun was placed in “standby mode.”

At 2109, the Stark locked on to the F-1 with her com­bined antenna system. The lookout reported an inbound missile to the CIC, but the report was not relayed to the TAO.

‘The Stark Report’
by Michael Vlahos
Proceedings, May 1988

At approximately 2112, l heard the horrible sound of grinding metal and my first thought was that we had collided with another ship. I immediately opened my stateroom door and headed for Damage Control (DC) Central. Within a fraction of a second I knew we were in trouble. I smelled missile exhaust and heard over the 1MC, “inbound missile, port side… all hands brace for shock!” Then general quarters (GQ) sounded and I saw the crew move faster than they ever had before. The first missile had slammed into the ship under the port bridge wing, about eight feet above the waterline. It’s speed at impact was more than 600 miles per hour. The warhead did not explode, but the missile did deposit several hundred pounds of burning rocket propellant as it passed through passageways, berthing compartments, the barbershop, post office, and chief petty officer quarters. And although we did not know it at the time, the missile still had most of its fuel on board, since it had traveled only 22 miles from me launching aircraft to our ship.

The potent mix of the missile’s fuel and oxidizer resulted in fires hotter than 3,500° Fahrenheit that instantly ignited all combustibles and melted structural materials. This temperature was nearly double the 1,800° normally considered the upper limit in shipboard fires.

About 30 seconds later, the second missile struck the Stark eight feet forward of the first missile’s point of impact. It traveled only five feet into the skin of the ship and then exploded with a tremendous roar. Later analysis determined that the damage, while significant, was not as great as might have been expected because a large portion of the blast’s effect was vented away from the interior of the ship, creating a huge, gaping hole in the process. This reflects the results of the ship’s strong [Damage Control] preparation.

Within minutes, nearly one-fifth of the crew had been killed and many others had been overcome by smoke, bums, and shrapnel wounds. The remaining crewmembers had a monumental task ahead of them, yet they plunged ahead.

I witnessed countless acts of heroism throughout the night: Electronics Technician Third Class Wayne R. Weaver III sacrificed his own life to assist many crewmembers to safety from the primary missile blast zone. Seaman Mark R. Caoutte, despite severe burns, shrapnel wounds and the loss of one leg, continued to set Zebra in an area being consumed by fire. Gunner`s Mate Third Class Mark Samples risked his life for 12 hours, spraying cooling water inside the ship’s missile magazine. Had it exploded, the Stark would have gone to the bottom. Thanks to the intensive first-aid training given to the crew, Mess Management Specialist Second Class Francis Burke was directly responsible for resuscitating many smoke inhalation cases. Many other heroic acts were performed, but they all had a common thread: In each of these cases, the crewmembers acted correctly, using their training to solve a complex casualty.

Lt. Art Conklin, USN
Stark’s damage control assistant.
‘We Gave a 110% and Saved the Stark’
Proceedings, Dec. 1988