The littoral combat ship Independence was decommissioned Thursday in San Diego — leaving the fleet with 22 littoral combat ships.
The Independence, which was commissioned in 2010, was one of the test and training vessels for the littoral combat ship program, along with the Freedom, Fort Worth and Coronado.
But then-Rear Adm. Randy Crites, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget at the time, said in February 2020 that the early versions of the littoral combat ship needed major, expensive upgrades, and it was better for them to be mothballed.
As such, the Navy said in a news release that decommissioning the Independence “supports department-wide business process reform initiatives to free up time, resources, and manpower in support of increased lethality.”
Even so, Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, praised the ship and its crew for its contributions during the ship’s 11 years in service during the decommissioning ceremony on July 29.
“The Independence crew shouldered a heavy responsibility. Since the ship’s introduction into the fleet we asked her to serve for a specific purpose; to test emerging equipment and concepts,” Kitchener said.
“The crew accomplished that and so much more,” Kitchener said. “Without their efforts and experiences, the ship class would not be where it is today with six ships deployed throughout the world. Those improvements, made largely in part due to this crew’s experience and input, will continue to carry the LCS class into the future.”
The decommissioning ceremony was a small private event, consisting of ship plank owners and former crew members, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navy said.
The Independence was the sixth ship to bear the name — the first being a 10-gun sloop from the American Revolution. Others include a small aircraft carrier that served during World War II and earned eight battle stars, and another aircraft carrier that was commissioned in 1959.
The Navy announced in May that the Independence would be decommissioned in July, along with the littoral combat ship Freedom in September.
The Freedom, which was commissioned in 2008, completed its final deployment April 1. The ship was deployed to U.S. 4th Fleet, where it supported Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission to battle illicit drug trafficking in both the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific.