The Navy bade farewell to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Ford (FFG 54) after more than 28 years of service during a decommissioning ceremony at Naval Station Everett, Oct. 31.
The ceremony featured former USS Ford commanding officers, plankowners and family of the ship’s namesake.
As USS Ford commanding officer Cmdr. Joseph T. Shuler began writing his speech, he asked himself, ‘What would Patrick Ford say?’, referring to the ship’s namesake.
“Ship, shipmate and self,” said Shuler. “These three words are our continuum of priorities in battle in the absence of any other direction from higher authority. Words that [Partick Ford] and thousands like him have lived by every day in the Navy.
“Ship – [Patrick Ford] would likely try to convince me to talk about the mighty Ford herself, as a weapon of war and the millions of miles that it traveled as a symbol of the significance of the role the United States plays in spreading freedom all around the world.”
With the word, ‘shipmate’, Pat would say that teamwork, camaraderie and esprit de corps were all things that drive successful commands in the Navy, and those things are ingredients driven by people, said Shuler.
“The one thing I will miss most about my time on the Ford were the memories I built with my shipmates,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Jordan Esquivel. “We are one big family, which is why we worked so well together.”
Shuler continued his remarks by listing Ford’s last priority in battle: Self. He remarked that if Pat were here today, he would not personally have too much to say about ‘self’. Instead, he would likely say that the cause of freedom and democracy and the positive effect it has had all around the world was worth talking about. Shuler said that Ford was a Vietnam Veteran Gunner’s Mate who gave his life defending the Nation.
“It’s emotional being here today,” said Patricia Ivey, niece of Patrick Ford. “Our uncle was a hero, and he would be proud of what the crew and his ship has provided to the Navy.”
The ceremony also featured retired Capt. David Matawitz, former USS Ford commanding officer, as a guest speaker.
“Long after the last Sailor leaves her brow and her ensign is hauled down, Ford will continue to live,” said Matawitz. “A part of her is always alive in our hearts, and I’d like to think a part of the U.S. is always alive in her hull.”
Ford was commissioned June 29, 1985, in Long Beach, Calif., and served the Navy and the nation for more than 28 years.
Throughout USS Ford’s history, the frigate played important roles during Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terror. She also conducted anti-piracy, anti-terrorism and counter narcotics operations.
Press Release, November 01, 2013; Image: US Navy