By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
A decommissioning ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 31 at the Navy base.
The ship is scheduled to be replaced in Everett by a destroyer next year, as part of the Navy’s long-term plan for the base, according to Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.
The USS Ford’s 131 crew members will be reassigned and spread out to other ships and duty stations, said Kristin Ching, spokeswoman for Naval Station Everett.
The USS Ford is an older ship, commissioned in 1985. The guided-missile frigate is named after Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Patrick O. Ford for heroism during the Vietnam War, according to the base. Ford was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, which saved the lives of two of his shipmates.
Members of Ford’s family, along with former Ford Commanding Officer Capt. David Matawitz (Ret. USN) are expected to attend the decommissioning ceremony.
The Ford’s last deployment was in 2011 in the Western Pacific where it participated in an international exercise titled Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, aimed at promoting communication and understanding between military forces from different nations, according to Naval Station Everett.
The Navy base is home to three frigates: the USS Ford, the USS Rodney M. Davis and the USS Ingraham. One of the two remaining frigates is scheduled to depart Everett and be immediately replaced by a destroyer in fiscal year 2017, and the other will follow in 2020, according to Larsen’s office.
Including Naval Station Everett’s two current destroyers, the USS Momsen and USS Shoup, the base will have a total of five destroyers by 2020, with all the frigates having been replaced under the plan.
The base’s lone aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, is slated to be homeported in Everett at least through 2022, except for a period in routine dry-dock in Bremerton around 2015.
Eventually, when all the ships have been switched out, nearly 300 more sailors will be stationed in Everett. The bump from 3,956 today to 4,235 in 2020 represents about a 7 percent increase.
“While it’s always sad to see a ship leave Naval Station Everett, the Ford’s decommissioning is the first step of the Navy’s plan to bring newer, bigger ships here,” Larsen said in a written statement. “The Ford and the hundreds of sailors who sailed on her served our nation ably. I look forward to welcoming her replacement as the Navy continues to invest in our community.”
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.