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Fleet's oldest deployable warship nears retirement

Jul. 22, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Ssang Yong 2014
The amphibious transport dock Denver was commissioned in 1968. (Lance Cpl. Katelyn Hunter / Marine Corps)
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The fleet’s oldest deployable warship is nearing its goodbye.

The amphibious transport dock Denver returned from its final patrol in April and is set for an Aug. 14 retirement at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii after an astounding 46 years — a lifespan akin to a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Denver entered the fleet in 1968. It has served nine presidents and in conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq. In April 1975, the ship’s crew aided in the evacuation of Saigon.

“It is with a great sense of pride that Denver will decommission as the oldest deployable warship in the Navy and as the last and longest serving Austin-class amphibious transport dock,” said Capt. Michael Donnelly, the ship’s commanding officer, in a Monday news release.

“Her extended service life is a true testament to the men and women of Lockheed Shipbuilding who built her and the generations of crews who maintained and sailed her through the full spectrum of missions: from disaster relief to Gulf War command ship,” Donnelly said.

After decommissioning, the ship will join the mothball fleet, meaning it could one day be recalled to service.

The frigate Constitution remains listed as “active, in commission” in official Navy records; “Old Ironsides” was commissioned in 1797.

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