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3 Mayport ships set sail for the final time

MAYPORT, Fla. – After a solemn ceremony, three coastal patrol ships left Mayport on Friday for their final docking in Philadelphia.

“Decommissioning a ship is part of the normal life cycle, and the funds freed up will support other programs throughout the Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel O’Neill.

O’Neill’s ship, USS Shamal -- as well as USS Zephyr and USS Tornado -- have been vital in the counter-narcotic illegal migration patrols during their time in service off the U.S. coast. They’ve also spent time in the coastal waters of Central America and the Caribbean Islands.

“It’s very emotional to be the final captain of the ship. To close out a legacy of the hundreds, if not thousands of sailors who served aboard and certainly worked on board the ship,” he said.

Each ship received its own decommissioning ceremony this week. USS Shamal was first on Tuesday, remembered for its help during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Wednesday was USS Zepher’s turn. It was one of the first ships to respond to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April of 2010.

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On Thursday, USS Tornado was decommissioned. Last year it helped to bust more than 40-tons of cocaine and 2-tons of marijuana with an estimated street value of nearly $850 million.

Once in Philadelphia, the three ships will await their official decommissioning designation, which happens next month.


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