By Journalist 3rd Class Davis J. Anderson, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic
The recovery and salvage ship USS Grasp (ARS 51) was decommissioned after 20 years of service and transferred to Military Sealift Command (MSC) in a ceremony at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek Jan. 19.
Past and present crew members attended the 11 a.m. ceremony to say farewell to the ship.
“There’s always a little bit of sadness at the end of a career,” said Grasp’s executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Chicoine, “at the same time, people are looking forward to the next part of their life.”
As a U.S. Navy ship, Grasp had a crew of approximately 100 Sailors. As an MSC asset, the ship will now have a crew of 26 civilian mariners and four enlisted military personnel.
According to many on board, the relatively small crew enabled them to come together more so than on other ships.
“There’s only about 100 Sailors here,” said Gunner’s Mate First Class (SW) Deshawn Carter, chief master at arms and weapons and force protection leading petty officer for the ship. “We just came off a six-month deployment,” said Carter, “more than anything it’s difficult to leave such a tight knit group.”
Grasp’s senior enlisted advisor, Master Chief Engineman (SW) Scott Sheldon, echoed this sentiment.
“It’s a lot more personal here (aboard Grasp),” said Sheldon. “You get to know everybody. You have your agreements and disagreements.”
“These last two-and-a-half years onboard Grasp have been the highlight of my career,” said Cmdr. Brian Moum, Grasp’s last commanding officer.
Following decommissioning Grasp will enter an extensive maintenance period during which it will be converted for operation by the civilian mariners.
After the shipyard period, the ship will begin a training phase designed to provide the ship’s civilian crew with experience operating with embarked military mobile diving and salvage units. Additional changes to the engineering plant and bridge equipment will allow operation by the smaller civilian crew.