MAYPORT, Fla (NNS) -- Family, friends and military gathered aboard Naval Station Mayport Oct. 5 to bid safe farewell to USS McInerney (FFG 8) as they set sail for their final deployment.
The McInerney will be the first gas turbine propelled ship to complete 30 years of service during their six-month deployment. All other ships of this kind have decommissioned prior to accomplishing this significant milestone.
According to McInerney's Command Master Chief, CMDCM (SW/AW/SCW) John T. Lawry this milestone pleases more than just the ship's current crew and the Navy.
"The pride I feel to have served on a warship with the history that McInerney possesses is indescribable. This ship was commissioned before anyone currently serving on her was in the Navy, and before many of her Sailors were even born. This accomplishment is a great testament to all who have sailed on her that this ship has performed at high levels for this long," said Lawry.
People not serving aboard McInerney felt that same pride about the ship's many years of success.
"I have watched this ship pull in and out of this harbor for years," said Neptune Beach local, "Buzz" Wilks. "I never get tired of watching ships leave full of Sailors, full of our country's angels setting out to serve, but nothing makes me happier than seeing them return home, and this one is going to come back having served this great country for 30 years. Now that's really something."
Lawry said the ship and its crew have many accomplishments, but he does have one that stands out.
"The accomplishments of any warship, let alone one with 30 years of service are so numerous and lengthy that I would do injustice trying to name them all. The accomplishment that stands out most to me during my tour would be the first capture of a SPSS (Drug Sub) by the crew while on deployment in 2008. Our combined efforts resulted in legislation being created to help stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States and its allies," said Lawry.
The SPSS or self-propelled semi-submersible vessel Lawry referred to was carrying an estimated $107 million worth of cocaine that never hit the streets of the United States. Lawry said it is always great to take part in something so significant but the goal of every deployment is always bigger, it's always about safety.
"If you asked me what the goal of the deployment is I would answer that it is to bring back everyone we left with to their families and loved ones. Everything else that we accomplish as a team just makes my job that much more satisfying - but our primary goal whether it's for deployment, or just for a day, is to bring everyone home safely in the same condition or better than when we left."
Lawry's pride goes beyond the accomplishments of the ship and of its future milestone; his pride is in the crew.
"It is hard to describe my feelings for this crew and the growth they have shown as a whole during my tour aboard. We have been faced with so many challenges in such a short time it's seriously mind boggling. Watching these young men work together and put aside differences to accomplish something that was a huge undertaking is especially gratifying. I am proud to serve as the command master chief of such a hard working and professional group of individuals all who strive to improve and grow on a daily basis."
As McInerney sets out to unknown obstacles and achievements, people walk away already awaiting their return.
For more news from Naval Station Mayport, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsmayport/.