USS Yorktown Decommissioned At Pascagoula Homeport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/03/04

USS Yorktown Decommissioned At Pascagoula Homeport

Ginger Johnson couldn't believe her eyes. John Long was at Naval Station Pascagoula. "I don't believe you came," she said, while giving the retired sailor a big hug. They first met two decades ago. These were the men and women who commissioned this version of the USS Yorktown.

"Debbie called me and told me they were going to decommission the ship," Long told Johnson. "I said no, we're still alive. They're not supposed to do that."

One of Long's naval buddies was John Johnson. "It's sad. Mixed feelings," the Hurley man said.

Carmen Long had tears in her eyes as she looked around the dock and saw so many friendly faces from her days with the Yorktown. "I'm so happy," she said. Happy to reunite with friends who shared fond Yorktown memories. Sad to see the fifth ship named Yorktown retire from the Navy's fleet.

That sadness was evident in speeches given during the Yorktown's decommissioning ceremony. "I'm a very sad former captain of this ship," Phillip Dur told the crowd. Dur is the president of Northrop Grumman. The Pascagoula shipyard built the Yorktown more than 20 years ago. From 1986-1988, Dur was Yorktown's commander. "I've always said that the best tour I had in the Navy was commanding officer of Yorktown," he said.

Yorktown's crew worked on one of the most advanced warships in America's fleet. Smart ship computer technology installed in 1996 changed the way the Navy operated.

Its last commander was Steven Sloan. "In 20 years," he told the crowd, "Yorktown has sailed the seven seas, completed 13 major deployments, and built a history of excellence."

Once the speeches were over, Commander Sloan ordered all pennants and colors to be taken off the ship. Moments later, he gave his final command. "USS Yorktown is decommissioned." Those words brought tears to John Johnson's eyes. "We basically set the tone for the follow around crew," he said. "It's hard to see her go out."

Early next week, the USS Yorktown will be towed from Pascagoula to Philadelphia.

by Brad Kessie

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