The USS Gary (FFG 51) is a small ship based out of California (Long Beach, after moving from the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego). It is a Fast Frigate, and is designed to carry guided missiles, which adds the letters FFG to the name. Its hull number is 51, and it sports an aluminum superstructure.

During the Reagan years, the administration wanted to build up a 600-ship navy. To accomplish this goal, they began buying these small ships that were originally designed for the US Coast Guard. The problem with the design is that aluminum burns when hit by a missile (similar to the USS Stark when it was hit by an Iraqi Exocet missile), and the superstructure can shear off at exceptionally high rolls (which probably would have capsized the boat anyway).

The crew runs approximately 300 people, and the ship can house two helicopters (normally SH-60Bs). It is an extremely fast ship, and it runs on a pair of gas turbine engines turning a huge screw, which can propel the ship over 30 knots.

During the oil blockades by Iran in 1987-88, it participated in Operation Earnest Will, which supplied two helos that watched for mines in front of oil tankers. During Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988, it provided support and advance guard duties, and it became the first US ship fired upon by two Silkworm missiles, which were tracked by the CAP aircraft and captured on film by the support barges that the Gary was protecting.

Just before Operation Praying Mantis, the Gary had been "boring holes in the ocean", or just circling while watching for suspicious activity. It was relieved by the USS Samuel B. Roberts, which later that evening hit a mine that the Gary had luckily missed during its patrol, sparking the skirmish between US and Iran.