navy flag
navy flag

Commissioning, Decommissioning, Striken, and Sold for scrap

Battle Hymn Of The Republic 
The Commissioning Ceremony
17 July 1943

The commissioning ceremony marks the acceptance of a ship as a unit of the Operating Forces of the United States Navy. At the moment of breaking the commissioning pennant, USS OAKLAND CL-95 became the responsibility of the Commanding Officer who, together with the ship's officers and men, had the duty of making and keeping her ready for any service required by our nation in peace or war.

The symbol above has its origin in European antiquity. During the Middle Ages, the mark of knights and other nobles was the "coachwhip" pennant. This pennant was known as a pennon. The size and elaborateness of the design generally indicated the relative rank and importance of the noble it heralded. On the rare occasions that these nobles embarked upon seagoing vessels, they ensured that their pennons were flown from the ship. The pennons generally flew from the vessel's most visible point, usually the forecastle or main mast.

It is believed that the first time the pennon was used independent of feudal heraldry dates back to the 17th century during a conflict between the Dutch and English. Dutch Admiral Martin Harperton Tromp hoisted a broom atop his masthead as a symbol of his intent to "sweep" the English Navy from the sea. British Admiral William Blake countered by hoisting a horse whip to indicate his intention to chastise the Dutch fleet. Admiral Blake made good on his boast and ever since a narrow coach whip pennant, symbolizing the original horse whip, has been the distinctive mark of a ship of war and has been adopted by all nations.

The commissioning pennant, as it is called today, is blue at the hoist with a horizontal red and white stripe at the fly, and varies in length with the size of the ship. At one time, there were thirteen white stars in the blue field representing the original states, but in 1933 seven white stars became the standard. The commissioning pennant is flown at the main on vessels with no flag officers embarked. Ships with a high ranking officer embarked will fly a personal or command pennant instead.


The Decommissioning Ceremony
1 July 1949

The decommissioning ceremony is a solemn occasion where we gather together to say farewell to a legacy of steel, sweat, and blood. This ceremony signifies the end of an era in which thousands of sailors have sacrificed their time, energy, and on occasion their lives, in order to ensure that the ship's mission was accomplished.

Nowhere in Navy Regulations will you find rules that state a ship must have any sort of decommissioning ceremony. This custom has risen out of the human need to reflect upon the loss of something that is a major part of one's life. It is only precedence that dictates that this should be a formal, impressive, and solemn event. The decommissioning ceremony for UNITED STATES SHIP OAKLAND CL/CLAA-95 marks the end of six years of service.

During the ceremony, USS OAKLAND will "strike colors" for the last time. The commissioning pennant will be lowered and presented to the ship's final Commanding Officer. This ceremony will mark the official retirement of UNITED STATES SHIP OAKLAND CL/CLAA-95. This ship is retiring before her time. After six years of faithful and dependable service, we will surely miss her. Fair winds and following seas to a mighty warship with a proud legacy.

The decommissioning ceremony, which marks a Navy ship's last day of active duty, lasts barely an hour. But the process is much more involved. Decommissioning involves unloading every last nut and bolt and slapping on a fresh coat of paint to a ship whose eventual fate is most often the scrap yard or years of sitting in "mothballs."

Decommissioning is also a time, often stressful, when sailors uproot from their home afloat, say goodbye to buddies and wait for new orders, whether good or bad. 

It's something every ship must go through. And it's never easy. 


Striken from the Navy List
01 March 1959


Sold for scrap to Lerner Co. Of Oakland, California
24 November 1959

For $212,889.66 a small pittance for such a fine ship; a ship so well fought by her officers and men during WWII; a ship that never failed to meet her peacetime commitments.








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