Mine warfare ship USS Pelican (MHC 53) departs from Naval Support Activity (NSA) New Orleans. Pelican conducted a three-day port call to the New Orleans before returning to her homeport at Naval Station Ingleside, Texas. U.S. Navy photo
by Mr. Sam Shore
Two Osprey-Class Coastal Mine Hunters, USS Heron (MHC 52) and USS Pelican (MHC 53), were decommissioned March 16, and transferred to the Hellenic Navy (HN) in the first official transfer of ships between nations at the South Texas base.
Capt. Dave Tungett, of the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Ships and Rear Adm. Iaonnis Karaiskos, Deputy Chief of Staff, Hellenic Navy, signed the official transfer documents following the decommissioning.
â€œThis is an occasion that is sad, but yet happy,â€ said Lt. Cmdr. Shanti Sethi, commanding officer of Heron and Pelican. â€œThese ships will come back to life with crews I know are very capable.â€
More than 100 Sailors, official guests and local Greek American community members waving Greek and American flags watched as U.S. Sailors disembarked and Hellenic Navy crews
took their place on board the newly-christened HNS Calypso and Efniki.
Using olive branches bathed in holy water, Rev. Stelios N. Sitaras of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Corpus Christi blessed
the vessels before Greek sailors raised their flags on each ship.
For the past eight months, Greek sailors attended the Mine Warfare Training
Center on the base; since January, they have trained aboard mine hunters in port and at sea alongside U.S. Sailors.
â€œThe priority for each of these crews was to ensure the Navy transferred the ships in the best possible condition,â€ said Capt. Mark Rios, commander, Mine Countermeasure (MCM) class squadron (CLASSRON). â€œThey trained the HN crews to operate these ships safely and effectively.â€
â€œThe ships will be placed in a period of availability to have upgrades installed and maintenance performed, then will head to Greece for service along the coastlines of Greece,â€ added Rios. â€œBy then crew training will have finished as well.â€
Osprey Class ships were designed to detect, locate, classify, identify and neutralize moored and bottom mines in coastal environments worldwide.
â€œWith the upgrades, the ships will help defend our many islands and miles of coastline,â€ said Cmdr. Nikolaos Tetradakos, chief of the HN detachment based in Houston. â€œThese ships will help to reinforce our commitment to America.â€
Heron and Pelican are the fourth pair of coastal mine hunters to be decommissioned. In January, two were transferred to Egyptian Navy, the other four were decommissioned last year and are in storage. The entire class is slated to be decommissioned by FY08.
By Ed Mickley, Naval Mine and Air Surface Warfare Command Public Affairs