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Frigate '.38 Special' retires after three decades of Navy missions

After three decades of service - including combat, humanitarian relief, terrorist hunting and drug interdiction - one of the Navy's busiest ships is set Friday to retire.

A decommissioning ceremony is planned at Naval Base San Diego for the guided-missile frigate Curts, named for one of the Navy's heroes of World War II, Adm. Maurice Curts.

In Operation Desert Storm, the Curts captured an Iraqi garrison on Qaruh Island, took 51 prisoners, sank an Iraqi minelayer and supported U.S. combat helicopter operations.

After the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, the Curts helped evacuate refugees. Later it deployed to the Persian Gulf and conducted 89 boardings of merchant ships in the Red Sea. The ship also provided "forward presence" and trained with allied nations.

In recent years, the Curts deployed repeatedly to interdict drug shipments in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. In its last deployment, it seized more than $26 million of cocaine and marijuana.

With the number 38 on its hull, the Curts was dubbed ".38 Special" by her first crew.

The Curts "leaves the fleet the same way she entered: Ready to fight," said Cmdr. Fermin Espinoza, the Curts' last commanding officer.


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Photo: The frigate Curts. Credit: U.S. Navy

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