NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – After nearly 30 years of service, the USS Robert G. Bradley, a Mayport warship, was decommissioned Friday.
USS Robert G. Bradley is a guided missile frigate named after Lt. Robert Graham Bradley, a hero of World War II.
"You know, we'd love to keep them all in fleet forever. But the reality of it is, is we have to upgrade and bring in some new ships, so it's just what we have to do," said Naval Station Mayport spokesman William Townsend.
The ship had a crew of 17 officers and 198 enlisted sailors who disembarked Friday. It could also support an SH-60 helicopter or a drone, which carries six officers and 15 enlisted personnel.
"We're sailors, and sailors belong on ships and ships belong at sea," Townsend said. "So for the majority of us, we hate to see them go."
After logging 50,000 miles and seven months at sea supporting efforts with counterterrorism, hundreds of sailors are reunited with loved ones.
"With 30 years of service, [the ships] come to the end of their service life. As you can imagine, salt water is pretty rough on a steel haul," Townsend said.
Townsend said decommissioning is determined by the condition of the ship, the material condition, when it was commissioned and how long it's been in service.
The Bradley will be towed to a Navy facility in Philadelphia, where it will be offered for foreign military sale.
"This ship has done a lot for this country," Second Class Petty Office Matthew Clark said. "I've known the crew personally as well as our leadership aboard the USS Bradley, and I'm just sad to see it go."
"She's taken us places, from the darkest corners of Africa all way to the Persian Gulf down in South America," Cmdr. Peter Ehlers said. "So she's got some miles on her."
The Bradley is the seventh ship at Mayport to be decomissioned since 2011. The others were the USS Doyle, USS Boone, USS Stephen W. Groves, USS John L. Hall, USS Klakring and USS Underwood.
The USS Taylor is currently on its last deployment and will be decommissioned after its return.
As these ships are retired, the Navy will bring in smaller, faster, more versatile ships like the LCS.
"What we're looking for is increasing our capabilities over all," Capt. Ryan Tillotson said. "So it would be wrong to say, or incorrect to say that we're getting rid of ships and replacing those. What we're really doing is we're expanding our total capability with the ship platforms we're bringing in."