SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The mine countermeasure ship USS Avenger (MCM 1), was decommissioned after more than 27 years of naval service during a ceremony on board Naval Base San Diego, Sept. 30.
Avenger was launched June 15, 1985, and the commissioning ceremony took place September 12, 1987, during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm
Several of the ship's plankowners and former crew members, attended the ceremony alongside current crew members.
"It's a bittersweet moment," said Mess Management Specialist First Class (ret.) James Hannon. "Serving aboard Avenger was the best experience in my 21-year career. We put the ship together right from the beginning and we had a great crew. I'm definitely going to miss her."
Lt. Cmdr. Adam C. Soukup, commanding officer, USS Avenger, honored the plankowners that took part in the commissioning ceremony more than 27 years ago by having them stand and be recognized during the decommissioning ceremony.
"It's the end of an era," said Soukup. "A lot of work goes into getting these ships underway for the mission, and the Sailors that served aboard Avenger, past and present, executed those taskings with the utmost pride and professionalism.
Over the years, Avenger played integral roles during Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Shield, and several deployments to the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Avenger was also the first ship to ever locate and destroy a fiberglass-cased influence mine in combat.
Cmdr. (ret.) Robert S. Rawls, Avenger's first commanding officer, had the unique opportunity to be there for the ship's commission as well as it's decommission.
"It was one of the greatest honors to see the ship that I got to commission be put to rest," said Rawls. "Not too many people get to see the ship that they commissioned be decommissioned and while it is a sad moment I am humbled and honored to have been a part of the Avenger's legacy."
Avenger will transfer to the inactive reserve Sept. 30.