Ceremony marks end of wartime ship's 30 year legacy of defense

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A ship that has been defending our country for decades will no longer be in service after Friday.

Naval Station Mayport held a decommissioning ceremony for the USS De Wert.

The guided-missile warship has been part of the United States Navy's fleet of ships for more than 30 years.

It is named after Hospital Corpsman Richard De Wert, who died in combat in 1951 at the age of 20. He came under heavy fire while giving medical assistance to his injured comrades.

De Wert received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism.

More recently, the USS De Wert arrived at Mayport for its final homecoming with its sister ship, USS The Sullivans.

Several hundred sailors were able to reunite with their families just two days before Christmas. Both ships had spent several months overseas conducting defense operations.

The USS De Wert has a crew of 17 officers and 198 enlisted sailors. It can support a helicopter or an unmanned aerial vehicle.

In 2011, the ship joined British forces to free an Italian cargo ship from pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Eleven pirates were apprehended, and all 23 crew members on board the cargo ship were safe.

Once the USS De Wert is decommissioned, it will be towed to a Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Office in Philadelphia. It is slated to be put up for sale to foreign military forces.

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