UPDATE: The frigate Kauffman's departure was delayed a day due to wintry weather, officials said Tuesday.
NORFOLK, Va. — The guided-missile frigate Kauffman will depart on its final deployment Thursday, a day later that had been scheduled.on Wednesday.
It will also be the last deployment for an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate.
While there have been 51 frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry class, the Navy has reduced that number to single digits. Lawmakers and Navy leaders, faced with diminishing budgets, made the decision to sell most frigates to foreign navies as the ships' hulls hit their three-decade lifespan.
The service will bid farewell to its remaining FFGs — McClusky, Vandegrift, Taylor, Gary, Elrod, Simpson, Samuel B. Roberts, Kauffman, Rodney M. Davis and Ingraham – this year. McClusky is scheduled to be decommissioned on Jan. 14. Congress on Dec. 18 authorized that frigate and Curts to be transferred to Mexico. The frigates Taylor, Gary, Carr, decommissioned on March 15, 2013, and Elrod will go to Taiwan.
Kauffman will be the last to be decommissioned, in October, marking the first time in more than 70 years that the fleet will be without a frigate.
Cmdr. Michael Concannon in September became Kauffman's 18th skipper in preparation for this final float. After enlisting in the Navy as a machinist's mate in 1988, he received his commission from The Citadel in 1996. Concannon will lead Kauffman's 17 officers and 198 sailors on this final deployment to Central and South America for a Counter Transnational Organized Crime/Counter Illicit Trafficking mission.
Naval Surface Force Atlantic officials said the deployment was delayed due to weather conditions, but could not provide specifics. The forecast for Wednesday is partly sunny with low winds and temperatures near 50 degrees.
The snowstorm that hit the mid-Atlantic Tuesday has not changed the return time for the cruiser Leyte Gulf, still set for Wednesday. However, that ship's return could also be affected, officials said.