Saturday, February 5, 2011

Navy Bids Farewell To Trailblazing USS Los Angeles

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Feb. 4 marked the end of an era for the "Silent Service" as USS Los Angeles (SSN 688), the first of the world's largest class of nuclear-powered submarines, underwent her final decommissioning at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

Cmdr. Steven Harrison, Los Angeles' last commanding officer, was joined by Capt. Mark Whitney, commander of PSNS and IMF; and Capt. Dan Prince, chief of staff for Submarine Group 9; as the submarine's commissioning pennant was hauled down and the watch secured for the last time, ending Los Angeles' 34 years of service.
"Thirty-four years ago, a crew similar to this one ran aboard Los Angeles, bringing life to this steel body," said Lt. Cmdr. Darrel Lewis, Los Angeles' executive officer and master of ceremonies for the event. "Today, we reluctantly bid her farewell."

Launched in 1974 and commissioned Nov. 13, 1976, Los Angeles was the first of a new class of fast-attack submarines, intended as an eventual replacement for the Navy's Skipjack-, Permit- and Sturgeon-class SSNs. A total of 62 Los Angeles-class submarines were constructed between 1972 and 1996, making the class the largest nuclear-powered submarine class in the world.

In his final remarks as Los Angeles' commander, Harrison recalled the frontline role played by Los Angeles and other submarines of her class during the Cold War.

"The ship served proudly, as well as all the other remaining ships of the class, and contributed to victory in the (Cold) War in ways the general public will never know about," said Harrison.

The fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name – the others were a World War I tanker (ID 1470), an airship (ZR 3) and a Cold War-era heavy cruiser (CA 135) – Los Angeles received many honors during her three decades of service, including seven Battle Efficiency Awards, seven Meritorious Unit Commendations and one Navy Unit Commendation. She made 16 deployments, participating in four Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational exercises.

Los Angeles also made history in May 1977 when President Jimmy Carter, the only U.S. president to qualify in submarines, and his wife Rosalynn joined Adm. Hyman Rickover for an at-sea demonstration of the submarine's capabilities.

Los Angeles' farewell process began Jan. 23, when the ship's public decommissioning ceremony took place at the Port of Los Angeles. Placed "in commission, in reserve," Los Angeles transited north to PSNS and IMF to begin the inactivation process.

In taking custody of Los Angeles, Whitney promised that Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility would honor the submarine's history.

"The inactivation and retiring of ships is an important element of our business," said Whitney. "But one of the important elements we don't actually talk about an awful lot when we are executing the work is one of the things we hold very sacred – that is, we will respect the honor and we will preserve the legacy of your ship."

"We are proud to be the final crew of the USS Los Angeles," said Harrison.

The Los Angeles class was followed by the Seawolf- and Virginia-class submarines. 
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