As times change, so do friendships and relationships. The love that the United States Of America and Poland have had for each other has never really diminished. Though numerous foreign nationals contributed to this country's success during the Revolutionary War, scholars of warfare are quick to point to the ultimate weapons that soldiers wield against each other. In the 1700's, the cavalry was one of the feared weapons on the battlefields of the world. The Europeans were the masters of mobile warfare and the Polish Army cavalry in particular, were known throughout the continent for their tough unit standards, expert training and successes against the enemy. The father of America's cavalry would be Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, an officer in one of Europe's premier horse soldier outfits, the Polish cavalry. Giving the upstart nation a taste in modern mechanized warfare may not seem to have been wise, given the Colonial's lack of horses, but just knowing how cavalry acted and attacked was immeasurably helpful to General Washington. The training given by Count Pulaski was worth it's weight in gold. Training that is still relevant to military units today. As late as 1939, the Polish Army was still a force to be reckoned with. Much to the chagrin of the German Army's mechanized Panzer Corps, the "horse soldiers" were still capable of influencing combat. Although the Germans succeeded in defeating the valiant Poles, it wasn't the slaughter frequently depicted in movies and books. The reality is that the horses could travel paths that tanks couldn't "trod" on and the Polish were masters of striking the Panzers when they were at rest. Although German propoganda efforts of the day portrayed the German soldier as uber modern and mechanized, the truth is that the German Army used horse drawn transport like the other armies of the day. The Polish cavalry cut through many German formations causing disruption of meticulous timetables and other advances. The war ended with Poland being on the side of the communism but America still maintained good relations with Poland. As the Cold War ended and many countries reverted to their pre-world war two alliances, the Polish and American governments once again found themselves friendly. In a technology transfer to the new independent nation of Poland, the US Navy transferred the guided missile frigate USS Clark to the Polish Navy.
USS Clark was one of the original Oliver Hazard Perry Class guided missile frigates launched by the US Navy in the mid-1970's. Laid down in the late-1970's and commissioned in 1980, the USS Clark served with distinction. Although her official US Navy designation was anti-aircraft warfare, the ship was equipped with deadly anti-submarine capability. The ships were cheap yet sturdy: two of Clark's sisters, the Samuel B. Roberts and the Stark, would experience horrific damage yet still remain afloat. USS Stark was hit by an Exocet missile mistakenly fired by an Iraqi jet and the USS Samuel B. Roberts had it's back severely damaged by an Iranian mine. Both ships survived. The Clark was decommissioned from the Active US Navy on March 15th, 2000 and striken from the US Navy's list of ships. In a ceremony on the same day, she was transferred to the Polish Navy and renamed ORP General Kazimierz Pulaski, becoming the second largest ship in the Polish Navy. The turnover took place at the US Navy Base in Norfolk, VA. After twenty years of active servce in the US Atlantic Fleet, she turned over her crew and the Polish flag was hoisted above her.
The Polish Navy's plans for their new warship were fitting for a ship named Pulaski. she would take her place among other NATO warships and prove her training and worth. During her first year of Polish service, the Pulaski met or exceeded all expectations for the young Navy. Although obscelete in American terms, the Perry Class frigates are miles ahead of most technology present in Europe at the moment. With one or two exceptions (Royal Navy Iron Duke Class and Dutch Kortaener Class) the Pulaski is a major weapon system in European waters. Traveling back in time to find a fitting hero to name their ship for, Pulaski's name was easily chosen. The second Perry Class frigate transferred to Poland would be named ORP General T. Kosciuszko.
Although not quite "black" she still strikes a handsome appearance in her Haze Grey color. The proud Polish Navy has sent her on many "show the flag" missions throughout European waters. As such, the Pulaski has made such port calls as Antwerp in Holland, Malta and Faslane in Scotland.
With her new color, the Pulaski joined the Standing Naval Force Atlantic as Poland's contribution to the makeup of that task force. Here is the crew's uniform patch with a familiar face emblazoned on it.
We are pleased on the Casimir Pulaski website to honor our namesake's countrymen and their newest ship. We will try and keep abreast of the happenings of this proud successor to our heritage.