Story Number: NNS041004-04
Release Date: 10/4/2004 12:32:00 PM
By Journalist 1st Class Heather W. Hines, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Before a crowd of current and former crewmembers, USS Fletcher (DD 992) was decommissioned Oct 1. at Naval Station San Diego after 24 years of naval service.
In June, Fletcher returned to San Diego after participating in a 23-month deployment under Sea Swap. Sea Swap was initiated to increase forward presence by reducing transit time from homeport to an operating area. The reduction in transit time allows an additional 40 to 50 days of time on-station per deployment.
Under Sea Swap, Fletcher spent more than 17 months in the U.S. 5th Fleet operating area, conducting operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The additional on-station time that resulted from Fletcher's four crew swaps, each at six-month intervals, equated to five regular west coast deployments.
As Fletcher's command master chief during Sea Swap, Master Chief George Dwyer feels Sailors have to find ways to remain motivated about their ship, regardless of the number painted on the ship.
"We really got to examine where espirit de corps, morale and pride come from," Dwyer said. "Most people never really look at that. They associate it with the hull number on the ship. When you're going to do a Sea Swap, you're forced to examine 'how do we preserve the pride when we no longer refer to ourselves the way we used to?'"
The four destroyer crews to serve on Fletcher during its forward deployment consisted of Sailors from the original Fletcher crew, and the now decommissioned USS Kincaid (DD 965), USS Oldendorf (DD 972) and USS Elliot (DD 967).
Fletcher was designed and built by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries, Pascagoula, Miss. Commissioned July 12, 1980, Fletcher was named in recognition of Medal of Honor recipient Adm. Frank H. Fletcher, who was awarded the medal for distinguished service in the Battle of Vera Cruz.
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