Concord celebrates 35th year of service to fleet
By Lt. Roscoe Porter, USN
One might think that sharing Nov. 27 as a birthday with the likes of superstar rocker Jimi Hendrix and world famous martial arts actor Bruce Lee would be a lot to live up to. But just as Hendrix and Lee performed superbly for the American public, MSC combat stores ship USNS Concord, which entered service as USS Concord on Nov. 27, 1968, has proven to be a productive and enduring performer for the U.S. Navy.
On the morning of Nov. 27, 2003, Capt. Michael Murphy, Concord's master, and Cmdr. Patrick McCabe, SC, USN, officer in charge of Concord's military department, presided over a celebration of the ship's 35th year in service.
Since 1968, Concord, whether USS or USNS, has been a logistical lifeline for the Navy's fighting fleet. While every sitting president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has asked, "Where are the carriers?" in a crisis, many admirals and warship commanding officers have wanted to know, "Where are the nearest supply ships?" For more than three decades, Concord has answered that call by supplying the Navy's warships and ensuring their ability to conduct indefinite, sustained, forward-deployed operations.
As part of Concord's 35th birthday celebration, McCabe reminded the assembled crew of the ship's distinguished history.
"Concord is named in commemoration of all municipalities of Concord throughout the nation, the best known being Concord, Mass., scene of the Battle of Concord, April 19, 1775. USNS Concord is the fifth ship to bear the name and has been preceded by the first USS Concord, a sloop of war, commissioned in 1830, and serving in the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea, off the South American coast, and in the Indian Ocean. The second USS Concord, a twin-screw gunboat commissioned in 1891, saw service throughout the world, most notably in 1898 as part of Adm. George Dewey's squadron at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. The third USS Concord, an ocean-going tug commissioned in 1917, rendered inauspicious but honorable service. The fourth USS Concord, a light cruiser commissioned in 1923, saw service in the Pacific during World War II and in April 1944 participated in the bombardment of the Kurile Islands," McCabe said. "It is this record that the current crew seeks to emulate."
The crew also learned about Concord's sponsor. "Mrs. U.S. Grant Sharp Jr., the wife of Adm. U.S. Grant Sharp Jr., USN, former Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet christened the ship in 1968, carrying on a Navy tradition that started with the first Concord, christened 140 years earlier.
Capt. Murphy followed McCabe's presentation with a short birthday wish for Concord.
Then, in keeping with a time-honored Navy tradition, the youngest and oldest members of the ship's crew, OSSN Sara Robertson, USN, and Edward Gallagher, respectively, shared in the symbolic cutting of a birthday cake prepared for the celebration.
If there is anything that symbolizes Concord's continuing tradition of military service, it is the replica of the famous Minuteman statue that was presented in 1891 to the second Concord by the people of Concord, Mass. The scaled-down version of the minuteman statue, which currently resides aboard USNS Concord, has been carried with each ship named Concord for more than 100 years and will be passed when Concord is deactivated.
On Oct. 16, USNS Concord returned from a five-month deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The men and women of Concord's crew provided vital support to the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, the USS Tarawa and USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Strike Groups, as well as many other customers from the Navy's Fifth Fleet. During Concord's deployment to the Fifth Fleet area of responsibility, the crew safely and efficiently conducted more than 150 underway replenishment operations, transferring more than 6,000 pallets of provisions, cargo and key supplies to customers.
In addition, the ship transferred 1.2 million gallons of fuel while remaining at sea for more than 80 percent of its 132-day deployment.
The commander of U.S. Navy Task Force Five Three commended Concord and her crew for their outstanding service. "Your truly remarkable achievements provided vital material and moral support during critical war fighting efforts," he said in a message.