USS De Wert decommissioned after more than 30 years of service

Ship to be towed to Philadelphia, offered for foreign military sale


NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – After more than 30 years of service -- most of that time at stationed at Mayport Naval Station -- guided-missile frigate USS De Wert (FFG 45) was decommissioned Friday morning.

USS De Wert, (Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate), was named after Hospital Corpsman Richard De Wert, USNR, who lost his life on April 5, 1951, at the age of 20.

He was a member of Dog Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines when they crossed the 38th Parallel above Hoengsong. It was there that they came across heavy fire and Richard De Wert was shot while rendering medical assistance to his comrades in need.

Due to his acts of heroism, De Wert was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

"It's very honorable," William Edward De Wert, Richard's brother, said of the decommissioning ceremony. "He was a great guy. Too bad he had to get killed."

USS De Wert has a crew of 17 officers and 198 enlisted, and can support a SH-60 helicopter or MQ-8 UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Fire Scout detachment consisting of six officers and 15 enlisted personnel.

Cmdr. Joseph Thomas currently serves as the ship's commanding officer.

"It's not just a decommissioning," Thomas said. "It's a sad day for me to send a lot of friends I've made over the last 22 months go away to do other things."

IMAGES: Ceremony honors ship's history, service

"This ship served for 30 years," retired Adm. Walter Doran said. "That's a heck of an investment for the United States ta payer and the United States Navy. She served well."

Through the years, the ship served in Navy in different ways, including fighting drug cartels and protecting U.S. borders.

"They had combat capability, they have a reasonable shallow draft, they were workhorses, and we are going to miss them," Doran said.

The USS De Wert will be towed to Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Office Philadelphia and is slated to be offered for foreign military sale.

The De Wert was the second frigate decommissioned at Mayport this year and the USS Taylor is on its last deployment and is scheduled to be decommissioned later this year.  The three remaining frigates at what once the largest frigate port in the East Coast will be decommissioned in next year.