There may not have been many of you — the former supply ship Saturn’s crew of 160 never included many more than 40 sailors during its 25-year run with Military Sealift Command — but here’s a respectful nod to you and your old ride, which was sunk in the Atlantic Wednesday after the George H.W. Bush Strike Group spent two days attacking the decommissioned ship during a training/sinking exercise. Ships from Destroyer Squadron 22 and aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 8, along with Patrol Squadrons 10 and 45, took part in the tactical training exercise using surface-to-surface, air-to-surface and surface-to-air live fire, U.S. 2nd Fleet announced.
The destroyer Mitscher and the cruisers Philippine Sea and Gettysburg launched missiles, 5-inch guns, Close-In Weapons System, and 25 mm and .50-cal weapons at Saturn. In addition, aircraft and helicopters from CVW-8 launched from the carrier Bush employed bombs and air-to-surface missiles during the two-day exercise — what the fleet called “a unique opportunity to practice combat scenarios, to include tactics and procedures.” The attacks ramped up in intensity over the two-day period; it was the 5-inch rounds that finally did her in. The Navy has put a moratorium on such training sinkings after 2010 to conduct a comprehensive review of the requirements, costs, benefits and environmental impacts of the current process. Saturn, which began life as a British Royal Fleet auxiliary launched in 1966, had a great run. She’s now resting at the bottom of the Atlantic, about 250 miles off the East Coast. So, a toast to the ship and those who served!