March 27, 2021 – The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) held a small, COVID-conscious decommissioning ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, Florida on March 27 before inactivation which will occur in April.
Rear Adm. Robert Katz, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 presided over the ceremony, which included the remaining ship’s crew and several of its previous commanding officer, including the ship’s commissioning commanding officer, Capt. George “Dusty” Rhodes, who retired in 1999 and featured prominently in the ceremony.
“I am humbled to be with you on this bittersweet day as we gather here at Naval Station Mayport to commemorate this ship’s 33 years of commissioned service,” said Katz. “The history of Fort McHenry lies within each of the ship’s Sailors, and it is my hope this pride in their namesake guided all who crossed its quarterdeck and reported for duty.”
Fort McHenry was commissioned on August 8, 1987 at Lockheed Shipyard in Seattle.
“During my 17 years of sea duty and four commands at sea, I have no doubt that the Fort McHenry crew was the best with whom I ever served,” said Rhodes. “They were always more than willing to do whatever it took to fulfill the mission. It is remarkable how closely they have stuck together over the past 34 years. I am proud to be among them.”
After arriving in San Diego on Sept. 30, 1987 the ship remained homeported there until 1995 when it replaced the USS San Bernardino (LST 1189) as a forward-deployed ship based in Sasebo, Japan.