NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The guided missile frigate TCG Gokova (F 496) was commissioned into the service of the Republic of Turkey April 11, during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. Although the ceremony featured the normal trappings of such events, including speeches, a commissioning pennant and Sailors running aboard to "bring the ship to life," what was different about the event was that when it began, the ship had a different name -- USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG 13).
The commissioning of Gokova was preceded by the decommissioning of Morison, and the turning over of the ship to the Turkish navy as part of the U.S. foreign military sales program.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was Rear Adm. Christopher E. Weaver, commandant of Naval District Washington (D.C.) who served aboard Morison twice, including a tour as the ship's executive officer. He was happy that, although the ship was being decommissioned, it would go on living with the Turkish Navy.
"In the hands of these Sailors, the ship will live up to Samuel Eliot Morison's legacy, 'the past is prologue.' The ship will live on. We're turning a page in the history book of this ship and going on to many more exciting chapters," he said.
The final U.S. Navy commanding officer of the ship, Cmdr. James Shannon, had only been in command of the ship for a little more than a month. He and his crew swapped USS Estocin (FFG 15) for Morison so they could remain in their Norfolk homeport and the new crew of Estocin could remain in their homeport of Mayport, Fla. Still, Morison's legacy was not lost on him.
"It gives me great satisfaction that this fine man-of-war will continue to serve as a member of the Turkish navy," he said.
The preparations for the turnover have been going on for more than a month, with Morison's American crew turning over spaces and providing some initial training to their Turkish counterparts.
Gokova is the seventh Perry-class frigate to be turned over to the Turkish navy; the ship's new commanding officer, Turkisk Navy Cmdr. Armagan Kurgan, has served aboard three others. He served as executive officer aboard TCG Gemlik [ex-USS Flatley (FFG 21)] and TCG Gokceada [ex-USS Mahlon S. Tisdale (FFG 27)]. He served as commanding officer of TCG Gaziantep [ex-USS Clifton F. Sprague (FFG 16)].
During the ceremony, Kurgan noted Morison's accomplishments as a U.S. Navy ship and promised to continue the tradition. "We shall do our best to keep Gokova always victorious," he said.
Originally commissioned Oct. 11, 1980, Morison was the seventh ship in the Oliver Hazard Perry-class. The ship was named for Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison one of America's most distinguished naval historians, who wrote more than 40 books on naval history.
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