After 30 years in service, the USS Underwood has been decommissioned at Naval Station Mayport.
“She looks absolutely fabulous on the last day- as good as she did on day one,” says Director of Navy Staff and Commission Chief Engineer of the USS Underwood Richard Hunt.
For Hunt, seeing the ship come full circle- from when he was first testing the equipment to the final day today- is a special experience. He actually has a hand in the future as well, he tells me the destination for the USS Underwood is sitting on his desk at the Pentagon right now.
Retired Captain Jeff Niner is happy the USS Underwood has a future at sea, even if it’s not with the US Navy.
“All of us are sad to see her go, but everything has its time,” he says.
Niner’s first command was on the USS Underwood, and he looks back at that as a time that was great for the crew and himself.He flew in from Washington DC just for today’s ceremony and enjoyed sending it off.
Many plank owners played a special role in sending the ship off today. They were invited to embark the ship and debark as part of the ceremony. They walked off to loud applause from the crowd gathered for the ceremony.
Several speeches recounting the USS Underwood’s 30 year history followed, detailing time spent in the Mediterranean, on Challenger search mission, working Haiti earthquake relief, and supporting Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom.For the crew who was part of this final class, her recent service is just as important.
“This is the crew I came in on for the last two years, they’ve become like brothers to me,” one sailor, who has spent two years on the USS Underwood, tells me.
He will remain at Mayport, while others transfer to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and still more move to bases in other states.Mayport’s Commanding Officer tells me about 75% of the roughly 200 member crew is expected to remain in Jacksonville.And whether in Jacksonville, or across the fleet, he says the spirit of the crew will keep the USS Underwood alive.
“’Fighting Devils’, you will never die,” says Captain Doug Cochrane.
The USS Underwood will now be towed to Philadelphia and offered for foreign military sale.