EVERETT, Wash. - Sailors and guests bade farewell to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) as the ship concluded 28 years of naval service during a decommissioning ceremony on Naval Station Everett (NSE), Washington, Jan. 23.
Retired Cmdr. Craig R. Heckert, the first commanding officer of USS Rodney M. Davis and Capt. William M. Triplett, former Commander Destroyer Squadron 9 were guest speakers for the decommissioning.
Several former crew members, plank owners, friends and family also attended.
Rodney M. Davis’ last commanding officer, Cmdr. Todd Whalen kicked off the ceremony and put into context the ship's place in the history of the Navy during her time in service.
“I think I can speak for the 16 commanding officers that followed in Cmdr. Heckert’s footsteps and tell you we’ve strived to continue the tradition of excellence that you and your fellow plankowners started on Rodney M. Davis almost 28 years ago,” said Whalen.
The decommissioning ceremony, a time-honored naval tradition, retires a ship from service through a variety of ceremonial observances, including the department heads' final reports, lowering of the ship's commissioning pennant and Sailors walking off the ship while a bugler plays "Taps." The ceremony is meant to pay respect to the ship and the Sailors who have served in her over decades of honorable service.
According to Heckert, walking down the pier felt like walking through a time warp, except everything was the same.
“As I walked down this pier nothing has changed,” said Heckert. “Although the ship’s namesake Rodney Maxwell Davis will be decommissioning, the heroism and dedication that Rodney Maxwell Davis did for our country will forever be remembered.”
Rodney M. Davis was assigned to Destroyer Squadron 9. In December, the ship returned from her last deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. During the six-month deployment, the ship and crew of more than 200 Sailors conducted presence operations and theater security cooperation with partner nations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"Every one of these Sailors, past and present, made the personal sacrifices every day to protect our families, our friends and our countrymen,” said Whalen. “It has been my privilege to serve alongside of them.”
"Today there are 325,000 Sailors and 287 ships in the Navy and 197 of those sailors are standing the watch on Rodney M. Davis," he said. “So what do we honor the memory of Rodney M. Davis? We do what every Sailor has done for the last 28 years. We work together we prepare the ship for sustained combat operations at sea and we do everything we can to make the ship the best it can be.”
For Triplett, the ceremony was a new experience, as the Navy was saying goodbye the final frigate stationed at NSE.
"Those who sailed with Rodney M. Davis will forever be linked and will always be a part of making history,” said Triplett. They served our nation unselfishly like their namesake. This is the end of the frigate era here in Everett."
USS Rodney M. Davis was commissioned May 9, 1987, at Naval Station Long Beach as the 54th Oliver Hazard-Perry class frigate. She was named for Marine Sgt. Rodney M. Davis, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in the Vietnam War.
In honor of his service Rodney M. Davis’ daughter, Samantha Steen, traveled from Miami to attend the ceremony and received the honor of retiring the ship’s colors.
"It was an emotional and honorable experience,” said Steen. “I know my father would’ve been proud of the accomplishments that this ship did in his name."
Rodney M. Davis is scheduled to be transferred for dismantlement March 31.