NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- In a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, the crews of the guided-missile frigates USS Estocin (FFG 15) and USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG 13) swapped ships in late February. The crew swap was undertaken in an effort to eliminate hardship for the ships' Sailors and their families after Navy leadership decided to change previous plans to decommission both vessels.
Estocin, based in Norfolk, was scheduled for decommissioning this year and had begun drawing down its crew. S.E. Morison, based in Mayport, Fla., was scheduled for decommissioning next year.
When the decision was made to keep one of these 447-foot ships in commission because of their unique littoral capabilities and the advantages they might bring to homeland defense, they looked at the two ships and found Estocin had more recently undergone modernizations. As a result, it was decided to keep Estocin and accelerate the decommissioning of S.E. Morison.
Since Estocin's crew had been drawn down nearly 40 percent in preparation for decommissioning, it made good sense to allow that crew to continue on the path to decommissioning, albeit with a different ship. Additionally, keeping Estocin on the rolls allows S.E. Morison's former crew to remain in Mayport and complete their tours instead of being re-assigned during a decommissioning process.
The highlight of the ceremony came when the executive officers of the ships requested permission to post the crews to their new ships. When the order was given, Sailors of both ships removed their traditional Navy white hats and donned crisp, new ball caps featuring their new ships' names.
Former S.E. Morison Sailors welcome the opportunity to serve on a ship that has some upgrades and a few more creature comforts.
"I'm looking forward to using the equipment on board. It's newer than what we had on board Morison, so it will be challenging to use more sophisticated equipment," said Operations Specialist Seaman William J. Abercrombie from Salem, Ore.
"Estocin has some amenities Morison didn't have, like an upgraded telephone system and more comfortable berthing." said Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Brian Jackson from Rowlett, Texas.
But some will miss USS Samuel Eliot Morison, which they consider to be a special ship.
"She was my first ship. I crossed the Atlantic and saw Europe with her. In fact, all my 'firsts' were with Morison. It's where I really began learning my job as a naval officer," said Ensign Michael J. Ferraro from Gulph Mills, Pa.
"I can't wait to make Estocin one of the best ships in the fleet the way Samuel Eliot Morison was!" said Jackson.
For information on Navy ships, go to http://www.navy.mil, and from the "Site Index," choose "S" and scroll down to "Ships."