By most accounts, the retired Navy guided-missile frigate Rodney M. Davis enjoyed a long and successful sea service career.

Its was commissioned back in 1987 and served faithfully for 28 years. After retirement, it received a nice shadowbox and proceeded to talk the gate guard’s ear off before every commissary visit.

But the Navy called the old ship back into action recently, for one final mission.

Once again bobbing in the high seas, perhaps the old frigate felt a renewed youthfulness and purpose as it rode the waves 50 nautical miles north of Hawaii.

Then the boom-boom started on July 12, and Rodney M. Davis became the latest decommissioned ship to sink to the murky depths as part of a “sink exercise” put on by the Navy and its allies during this summer’s Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, exercise.

This year’s SINKEX saw the U.S. Navy joined by its counterparts from Australia, Canada and Malaysia in sinking the old ship, while helping crews with their tactics, targeting and live firing against a target at sea.

“There is nothing that really replaces the training value of opportunities such as this, which enable us to test our weapons and their associated combat systems with as much realism as possible,” Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Robinson, deputy commander of the RIMPAC Combined Task Force, said in a statement. “These live fire exercises are vital for maintaining our proficiencies, building our interoperability, and increasing our readiness for future operations.”

Ships used for SINKEXs “are prepared in strict compliance with regulations prescribed and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency,” according to the Navy, and such exercises must occur at a water depth of at least 6,000 feet, and at least 50 nautical miles from land.

“Surveys are conducted to ensure that humans and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event,” the Navy said.

Before the frigate was blasted to the sea floor, such vessels are put through “a rigorous cleaning process, including the removal of all polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transformers and large capacitators, all small capacitors to the greatest extent practical, trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials and readily detachable solid PBC items,” the Navy said. “Petroleum is also cleaned from the tanks, piping and reservoirs.”

Thank you for your service, former USS Rodney M. Davis.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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