BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- The fast combat support ship USS Camden (AOE 2) was decommissioned Sept. 29 at Pier Delta at Naval Base Kitsap, ending 38 years of naval service.
More than 300 people attended the pierside ceremony held under a large ceremonial tent due to inclement weather conditions. Capt. Kenneth Norton, the ship's commanding officer, welcomed the audience that also included more than a half dozen former Camden commanding officers and approximately 100 former crew members who served aboard throughout the ship's career.
"Today we are not only going to honor the decommissioning of the USS Camden, but we are going to honor 88 years of continuous service of the Combat Logistics Force of U.S. Navy commissioned ships," said guest speaker Capt. Walter Carter, former Camden commanding officer. "Today, we close the door as USS Camden represents the last of the Navy ships to turn that mission over to the Military Sealift Command."
Camden was the second of four Sacramento-class ships to be built after Navy officials determined in 1952 the need for ships that were fast and that could deliver three products all at once to the emerging fleet of newer and faster aircraft carriers being built.
Carter said Camden's legacy is not just that she has answered the call for 38 years. "That personality of the ship, that life blood, is the crew," Carter said. "And if you look back at the history of the Camden, for 38 years, [it] has been the home to over 8,000 Sailors, chief petty officers, officers, aviators, during her life span."
Carter said the experiences by crews who have manned the Camden is what it's all about.
"I would tell you that I am very proud to have been one of the 27 commanding officers of the USS Camden," he said. "As I stand here, I will tell you that I am just as proud or more proud to say that I stand shoulder to shoulder with 8,000 crew members of this ship. We will all have a common bond on board Camden. We'll have the privilege to say we were shipmates. That will be the legacy of the USS Camden."
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