INGLESIDE,Texas (NNS) -- Two Osprey-class coastal mine hunters were decommissioned June 30 in formal ceremonies at Naval Station Ingleside.
USS Falcon (MHC 59) was decommissioned during a ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. and then at noon, USS Oriole (MHC 55) held her decommissioning ceremony.
"The captain and crew have many accomplishments," said Cmdr. George Bain of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 2, guest speaker for the Falcon ceremony. "The Falcon will live on in the hearts and memories for all who served her."
"The Falcon is a good capable ship," Lt. j.g. Jeff Murawski, Falcon operations officer, aboard from August 2005 to April 2006, said, "but with the advent of the LCS platform and what that represents in terms of new technology and capabilities, the Navy is moving forward as it should."
Falcon and Oriole will complete decommissioning maintenance availabilities and then be stored at Beaumont, Texas.
"Oriole's decommissioning is not the end but a transition. She lives on through her Sailors," remarked guest speaker Cmdr. Jonathan Christian, Oriole's fourth commanding officer, during her decommissioning ceremony, which followed Falcon's ceremony.
"Oriole helped make us a crew. She provided a home," added Christian, "She served her country well."
Falcon and Oriole are the second pair of the 12 coastal mine hunters that have been decommissioned.
The 54 Sailors comprising MHC Crew Prestige embarked aboard Falcon and the 51 Sailors comprising MHC Crew Inflict embarked aboard Oriole have either transferred or will report to new assignments.
Falcon was christened July 1, 1993, and commissioned Feb. 8, 1997. The 188-foot ship has a beam of 36 feet, displaces approximately 895 metric tons fully loaded, and carried a crew of 8 officers and 46 enlisted personnel.
Four previous U.S. Navy ships have borne the name Falcon. The first was a gunboat that served during the Mexican War, the second patrolled in the 13th Naval District during World War I and the third Falcon (ASR 2) had numerous calls to duty, including duty in the North Sea during World War I, submarine salvage, and the Canal Zone. The fourth Falcon (MSC 190), a coastal minesweeper, conducted minesweeping operations from 1945 -1969.
Oriole was the fifth ship in the Osprey-class of coastal mine hunters. Christened May 12, 1993, delivered to the Navy May 12, 1995, and commissioned Sept. 16, 1995, Oriole transferred to the Naval Reserve Force Sept. 30, 1996, and was subsequently used to train naval Reservists. She is also the fifth ship to bear the name.
The first Oriole, a converted steamer turned gunboat, was commissioned March 1865, and performed blockading duties in Mississippi until the end of the Civil War. The second was a 15-gun sloop of war remained in service from 1904 through 1906 and then was acquired by the Coast Guard. The third Oriole (AM 7) was launched in 1918 and patrolled the coastal waters out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Reassigned in 1938, the mine sweeper spent the next three years operating out of Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash. She then sailed north in1941 for duty off Alaska. Reclassified to AT 136 in June, the ship conducted rescue, then salvage service and then as a tug.
The fourth Oriole (LCI(L) 973) was commissioned May 1944 and served in the Palau Islands and Guam until 1945 then was redesignated AMCU 33 and reactivated for duty in the 5th Naval District. April 1, Oriole, now MHC 33, conducted four months of mine detection operations off Little Creek, Va.
Two other MHCs were decommissioned earlier this month, with the entire class slated to be decommissioned by Fiscal Year 2008. Osprey-class ships were designed to detect, locate, classify, identify and neutralize moored and bottom mines coastal environments worldwide.
For related news, visit the Commander, Mine Warfare Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cmwc/.