NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Spruance-class destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD 968) was decommissioned here in a ceremony March 18 at Naval Station Norfolk.
The ship is now being prepared to serve as the test platform for the U.S. Navy's future destroyer, DD(X).
"This is great. It's not really an end, but a beginning of something new and better for the Navy," said Cmdr. Henry Smith, Arthur W. Radford's last commanding officer.
Six hours after the ceremony, Arthur W. Radford was towed to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Inactive Ships Maintenance Office in Philadelphia.
Eventually, the ship will be towed to Pascagoula, Miss., where Northrop Grumman will equip it with the new DD(X) technology. Some of this technology includes three engineering development models comprised of an integrated power system, composite deckhouse and dual band radar. The integrated power system will allow rapid reconfiguration of power, reduced acoustic noise, and greater flexibility in ship design, according to David Caskey, spokesman for NAVSEA.
The conversion is scheduled to begin in fall of 2004 and will take approximately one year. Once Arthur W. Radford is converted, at-sea testing will begin in the Gulf of Mexico and Virginia Capes operating areas, including Lambert's Point Range in Norfolk, Va., and Wallops Island Range near the eastern Virginia shore. The Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center Range in the Bahamas will also be used for the ship's testing.
Arthur W. Radford had been deployed with the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Battle Group in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, returning home in January. This deployment marked an end to a successful 26 years of service.
Commissioned in 1977, the ship has successfully completed 10 deployments where it participated in many exercises and missions, such as Exercise Multiplex-79, Exercise Dawn Patrol and Operation Enduring Freedom. During the ship's service, it had been to Venezuela, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Senegal, Oman, Bahrain, the Azores, Nova Scotia and, most recently, Italy and Turkey.
"The crew has stayed focused and made sure that we are going to lay the ship up with dignity," said Smith.
The crew started decommissioning planning before leaving for deployment last July, according to Smith.
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