An Interview with Captain Gordan Van Hook, U.S. Navy (Retired)
A quarter-century ago, the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58)—keel broken, hull pierced, stacks on fire—nearly went to the bottom of the Persian Gulf. Yet even after that lapsed time, the naval mine remains the undisputed champion among weapons that have damaged or sunk U.S. warships since World War II. The ship’s first chief engineer was Lieutenant Gordan Van Hook, a third-generation naval officer who was somewhat junior for such a position on a guided-missile frigate. Nonetheless, he helped forge a crew that won the squadron Battle E on her maiden deployment, and when the Roberts struck an Iranian mine on 14 April 1988, he helped bring the ship through mortal peril. He received the Bronze Star with Combat V and went on to command a destroyer and a destroyer squadron. In 2008, he retired as a captain with 29 years of service and now serves on the U.S. Naval Institute Board of Directors. Van Hook spoke with Bradley Peniston in 2004 for Peniston’s book, No Higher Honor: Saving the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf , newly out in paperback from the Naval Institute Press. Much of Van Hook’s account appears here for the first time.