The dock landing ship Fort McHenry was decommissioned Saturday after 33 years in the fleet.

The decommissioning ceremony for the Whidbey Island-class ship, LSD-43, at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, included Rear Adm. Robert Katz, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, and Capt. George “Dusty” Rhodes, commanding officer of the ship when it was commissioned.

“During my 17 years of sea duty and four commands at sea, I have no doubt that the Fort McHenry crew was the best with whom I ever served,” said Rhodes, who retired from the Navy in 1999, according to a Navy news release. “They were always more than willing to do whatever it took to fulfill the mission. It is remarkable how closely they have stuck together over the past 34 years. I am proud to be among them.”

Fort McHenry was commissioned in 1987 and has since supported operations including Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Vigilant Warrior and Enduring Freedom.

The ship’s last deployment to Europe, Africa the and Middle East with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group wrapped up in July 2019. The vessel — along with Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit — completed maritime security operations and more than 15 strait transits.

During that deployment, in early January 2019, Fort McHenry became the first U.S. Navy ship to enter the Black Sea following an incident two months earlier in the Kerch Strait, between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, when Russia fired upon three Ukrainian navy ships and then seized them.

During the first several months of that same deployment, the ship suffered an outbreak of viral parotitis, an infection that triggers symptoms similar to mumps, with fever, dehydration and chills. The outbreak caused more than 25 sailors to contract the disease and led the ship to ditch port visits for more than 100 days.

The last leg of the deployment included engaging in BALTOPS 2019, an annual exercise since 1972 in the Baltic Sea region.

“I am humbled to be with you on this bittersweet day as we gather here at Naval Station Mayport to commemorate this ship’s 33 years of commissioned service,” Katz said, according to a Navy news release. “The history of Fort McHenry lies within each of the ship’s sailors, and it is my hope this pride in their namesake guided all who crossed its quarterdeck and reported for duty.”

The ship will be inactivated next month and placed on “out of commission, in reserve” status as it’s transported to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia.

The Navy announced last month that the Fort McHenry would be decommissioned in a NAVADMIN. The same release said that littoral combat ships Freedom and Independence would also be moved to “out of commission, in reserve” status this year.

Meanwhile, the service also announced the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, which suffered a major fire last year, would be dismantled starting in April.

Coastal patrol ships Zephyr and Shamal are also slated to be dismantled this year, while coastal patrol ship Tornado and fleet ocean tug Sioux will be sold to a foreign military.

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