‘Golden Bear’ docks at final port

During four decades of service to the Navy, thousands of Sailors, many just out of boot camp, others seasoned or the oldest of salts had crossed the brow and on to the deck of the USS Sacramento AOE-1 for duty. For most of them, it would be a tour of sea duty they would never forget.

On Friday, Oct. 1, more than 40 of them, now older civilians, maybe Navy retired, joined another 450 people who were on hand for the decommissioning ceremony of the Sacramento at Pier Delta, Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton.

On that final day of active naval service, Sacramento sat high in the water, devoid of full fuel tanks, weapons and cargo holds.

The lead ship of her class, built at PSNS and one of four of the largest underway replenishment ships in the world, was properly “dressed” with a rainbow of her signal flags displayed from bow to stern over her mastheads as if she were being commissioned or returning to a joyous homecoming from one of her 23 deployments. Ship’s company manned the rails as the ceremony began below on the pier.

Cmdr. Ronald Bush, the last commanding officer of the Golden Bear, welcomed the audience, former Sacramento crewmembers and commanding officers along with local community and civic leaders and thanked them for their support for the ship through the years. Bush quickly heaped praise on this final Sacramento crew who went all out in making the ship the finest it could be.

“Team Golden Bear. Your mission was to decommission the ship with honor, courage and pride,” Bush said. “You did that. Mission accomplished. The ship looks great and is ready to move on to her next transition. As the last crew of the mighty Sac you go with a legacy of going out on top. You are Battle E winners and have won numerous accolades for your awards. You have out performed any crew on the waterfront. You have been the spirit and the life blood of the ship.”

At the conclusion of his remarks, Bush introduced Capt. Michael Manazir, the last operational commanding officer of ship who focused his comments on the uniqueness of the ship in its early years and the records it has set, many still intact today.

“When this ship came out she was the most magnificent ship of its type in 1964, only exceeded in size by the Iowa-class battleships and the Essex-class carriers,” Manazir said. “She carried more tonnage than the Essex-class carriers and delivered multi-products to carrier battlegroups at the same time.

“In her 23 deployments during her 40 years she did thousands of underway replenishments. The record was 18 in one day.”

He added that Sacramento’s decommissioning shouldn’t necessarily be a sad event, but rather what it means to the United States.

“When we designed and built

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