Public Affairs Manager
Three decommissioned Navy ships at Port of Everett bring back memories for Port employee
For the first-time, the Port of Everett and Lake Union Drydock are working together to salvage equipment off three decommissioned Navy ships for reuse; two of which used to be home ported at Naval Station Everett.
The ex-Fife, ex-Oldendorf and ex-David R Ray arrived at the Port of Everett this month to have the Vertical Launch System (VLS) removed. These missile racks, used for tomahawk cruise missiles and other weapons, are being preserved for other naval uses, and the work is being preformed in one of the Port of Everett warehouses.
“Working with Lake Union Drydock and its staff has been an enjoyable and cooperative effort,” said Scott Grindy, Marine Terminals Manager for the Port of Everett. “The new business has been great for the Port and the community.”
All three ships are Spruance Class Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s first gas turbine propulsion ships. The ships were also the first to be built using steel hulls and aluminum superstructures. The ex-Fife, which left May 19, and ex-David R Ray, which will leave June 7, used to be home ported in Everett.
“I have had numerous calls from various naval personnel at the Everett base. Many of them served on one of these ships when they were active, and so their presence here in Everett has drawn some fond memories for many,” Grindy said. “It is our understanding that one of the ships will be used as a component of a reef barrier, and the others will be used as naval target units.”
The presence of the ex-David R Ray brought back memories for Kim Buike, Marina Director for the Port of Everett. Buike was the Executive Officer of the USS David R Ray during the ship’s “overhaul” from June 1988 until June 1989 when it had its Vertical Launch System (VLS) installed. This is the standard launching system on all the cruisers and destroyers in today’s Navy. The same system is on the USS Shoup and USS Momsen that are currently home ported at Naval Station Everett.
“It brings back a lot of memories having the ex-David R Ray at the Port of Everett,” he said. “I was there to see the system installed, now I am here to see it removed.”
The ex-David R Ray was named after a young Hospital Corpsman from McMinville, Tenn., who died while providing life-saving medical care to Marines in Vietnam in the late 1960s. During one particular engagement, Ray continued to help injured Marines despite being mortally wounded. For his heroism under fire, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"When ships are decommissioned, all the memorabilia associated with the ship’s name sake are either returned to the family of the person for whom the ship was named, or returned to the Navy Archives for safekeeping or the reissuance to a future ship of the same name should that happen,” Buike said.
All the memorabilia of the ex-David R Ray was turned over to Naval Station Everett for the new Medical Clinic, which is named “David R Ray Branch Medical Clinic.” Ray’s portrait, his Medal of Honor and other memorabilia from the ship are on display in the lobby of the clinic to honor a fallen hero, and inspire the Hospital Corpsmen who serve at the clinic, Buike said.
For more information on the decommissioned ships, please visit the Web site at or call Lisa Mandt, community relations representative at 425-388-0617.
** Picture credit: Scott Grindy, Marine Terminals Manager for the Port of Everett