(Via Ho’okele News)
After 46 years of service, USS Denver (LPD 9) held its decommissioning ceremony Aug.14 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“It is with a great sense of pride that Denver decommissions as the oldest deployable warship in the Navy and as the last and longest serving Austin-class amphibious transport dock,” said Capt. Michael P. Donnelly, commanding officer.
“Her extended service life is a true testament to the men and women of Lockheed Shipbuilding who built her and the generations of crews who maintained and sailed her through the full spectrum of missions: from disaster relief to Gulf War command ship,” he said.
Jim Hyden of the USS Denver Association presented Donnelly with a proclamation from the mayor of Denver, which was read at the ceremony.
The ship was launched on Jan. 23, 1965 and commissioned on Oct. 26, 1968. She was christened by her sponsor, Ann Love, wife of the governor of Colorado.
Denver is the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of American pioneer James William Denver and the capital of the state of Colorado. Over its history, the ship played a significant role in several operations, most notably Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam in April 1975. “That she finishes her operational service in our forward-deployed naval forces is fitting to the reputation her crews have earned her over 46 years of service and is fittingly in sync with our Navy’s current priorities: warfighting first; operate forward; be ready,” said Donnelly. “Denver has been the example of these tenets.”
The guest speaker for the de-commissioning was Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Seven. “You are truly among the best I’ve seen and served with during my Navy career,” said Wetherald. “Fair winds, my friends, and following seas.”
After Wetherald and Donnelly spoke, the decommissioning directive was read aloud. The ceremony concluded with the ship’s company filing ashore, and eight bells were struck terminating the final watch. The colors, pennants, jack and ensign were hauled down and the USS Denver ceased to be a commissioned U.S. Navy warship.
Also present at the event were three former Vietnamese refugees who escaped the fall of Saigon aboard Denver as well as several former crew members.
The ship has been part of the forward-deployed Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which reports to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.
More photos and a story about today’s ceremony are planned for next week’s Ho’okele.