Lake Champlain decommissioning
The USS Lake Champlain during its decommissioning at Naval Base San Diego. Navy photo

The Navy decommissioned another aging Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, with a ceremony Friday honoring the USS Lake Champlain for more than 35 years of service.

It is the second cruiser decommissioned at Naval Base San Diego in less than a month’s time, following the USS Mobile Bay on Aug. 10.

The Navy has begun to decommission cruisers as it builds increasingly advanced versions of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the latest of which are as large as the old cruisers.

During the ceremony Friday, retired Vice Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III, a former executive officer of the Lake Champlain, paid tribute to the warship, its crews and those who supported it.

“Behind me is a machine of wonderous complexity and capability. It is truly a marvel of modern technology dedicated to decisive combat operations at sea,” said Copeman. “The fact that she is sitting here, still mission capable, is a tribute to the surface Navy and all the people tasked to support the surface fleet.”

“It is those sailors who have literally given the primes of their lives to the United States Navy keeping this machine in fighting shape that we are really here to pay tribute to,” he said.

The ship was commissioned in 1988 and always called San Diego home.

It was the third Navy warship named to commemorate the victories against the British during the War of 1812 in the waters of Lake Champlain between New York and Vermont.

The next Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to arrive in San Diego will be the USS Jack H. Lucas, which is scheduled to be commissioned Oct. 7. It is a Flight III version, with advanced radar and over 100 missiles.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.