Fun fact: There have been three military ships named USS Fresno. We haven’t heard from any of them in a while. The latest, a Vietnam War-era ship designed to spit out tanks and personnel in amphibious landings, was decommissioned in 1993.
After a ceremony in Long Beach, the USS Fresno was towed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where it presumably led a quiet, mothballed existence.
Until last year.
That’s when the Navy towed the 525-foot-long ship to a spot in the Pacific Ocean about 215 miles northeast of Guam. There, on Sept. 15, units from the Navy, Air Force and Marines used the USS Fresno for target practice, eventually blowing the ship to smithereens and sending it to the briny deep (and we mean deep — 18,000 feet down, according to the Navy).
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The Navy called it a sinking exercise, or SINKEX. For the Fresno, it was a chance to go out in multiple booms of glory. (The surveillance video shared on YouTube is in black and white; puzzling, as it makes the video appear older than it is.)
The first USS Fresno was a cargo ship acquired by the Navy in 1918 and transferred to the U.S. Shipping Board a year later. The second was a World War II-era light cruiser. It was decommissioned in 1949 after only two years of use and sold for scrap in 1966.
No. 3 was commissioned in 1969 and used for amphibious training exercises on the West Coast and in the Pacific. Fresno Mayor Karen Humphrey attended the decommissioning ceremony 22 years ago in Long Beach.
In a story about the ceremony by The Bee’s Don Coleman, Humphrey says of the ship: “Its history makes us feel very good about the relationship. We want to wish the best to all the people who have had a role in the ship’s service.”