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USS Kauffman decommissioned at Naval Station Norfolk

Posted at 12:19 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-19 06:42:29-04

Norfolk, Va. -The USS Kauffman (FFG 59) was decommissioned during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk Friday.

Friends and family members, along with former and present crew members gathered to decommission the last Norfolk-based Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate after 28 years of service.

The ship was commissioned Feb. 28, 1987, and was named for Vice Adm. James L. Kauffman, a veteran of World War I and World War II, and his son, Rear Adm. Draper Kauffman, a veteran of World War II.

The elder Kauffman had the distinction of having served the longest time in command and the longest time at sea than any other officer of his time; both were renowned for their focus on anti-submarine warfare.

Draper Kauffman organized U.S. Navy Bomb Disposal School at the Washington Navy Yard, a precursor to Explosive Ordnance Disposal School. He was also the first commanding officer for Navy demolition teams, the forerunner to the Navy's Special Operations Force known as the SEALs.

Kelsey Kauffman, granddaughter of James Kauffman and daughter of Draper Kauffman was on the pier for the decommissioning.

"This was their lives. They loved the Navy. My father always had a saying that the Navy didn’t owe him a plug-nickel. That he loved every single moment of being in the Navy and it was a joy," she told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo.

Three-year-old Draper Richey, great-great grandson of James Kauffman carried the colors off the ship for the final time.

"I've grown up hearing about them and now Draper has grown up for three years hearing about them. It's just been really fun for us to be here and to see the ship," his mother Sarah Richey commented.

Commander Michael Concannon has the distinction of being the last commanding officer of the Kauffman.

The Navy Jack is passed to the great-great grandson of the namesake of USS Kauffman. (MC2 (SW/AW) Jamie V. Cosby)

The Navy Jack is passed to the great-great grandson of the namesake of USS Kauffman. (MC2 (SW/AW) Jamie V. Cosby)

"I think it's an opportunity to say thank you to all the sailors who have done wonderful things on these ships. Sailors in the Hampton Roads area and across the United States that have lived, breathed and made these frigates matter," he commented.

Kauffman's final deployment to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility, in support of Operation Martillo, brought a suiting end to the ship's Navy career when the crew seized nearly 20,000 pounds of illicit narcotics.

Operation Martillo is a joint U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in Central and South American waters.

In the 28 years of service, USS Kauffman gave its nation, the ship and its crews more than 20 deployments in the Middle East, Africa, Mediterranean Sea and Caribbean Sea, with notable contributions to counter-narcotics and counter-piracy missions.

Kauffman also played a diplomatic role as one of only a handful of American warships to visit the Soviet Union.

Frigates were designed to provide anti-submarine warfare support and protection of shipping missions for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups and merchant convoys. Known for being a tough and robust platform, a total of 54 frigates were built from 1976 to 1988, at both Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, and Todd Shipyards, Seattle.

With the Kauffman decommissioning, USS Simpson (FFG 56) becomes the last Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in the Navy. The Mayport, Florida-based ship is slated for decommissioning, Sept. 29.

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