To Decommission a Ship
Is to terminate its career in service in the armed forces of a nation. Unlike wartime ship losses, in which a vessel lost to enemy action is said to be struck, decommissioning confers that the ship has reached the end of its usable life and is being retired from a given country's navy. Depending on the naval traditions of the country in question, a ceremony commemorating the decommissioning of the ship in question may take place, or the vessel may be removed administratively with little to no fanfare. The term "paid off" is alternatively used in British Commonwealth contexts, originating in the age-of-sail practice of ending an officer's commission and paying crew wages once the ship completed its voyage.
Ship decommissioning usually occurs some years after the ship was commissioned and is intended to serve as a means by which a vessel that has become too old or too obsolete can be retired with honor from the operating country's armed force. Decommissioning of the vessel may also occur due to treaty agreements (such as the Washington Naval Treaty) or for safety reasons (such as a ship's nuclear reactor and associated parts reaching the end of their service life), depending on the type of ship being decommissioned. In a limited number of cases a ship may be decommissioned if the vessel in question is judged to be damaged beyond economical repair, as was the case with USS Liberty, USS Halibut and more recently with Costa Concordia. In very rare or extraordinary cases, a navy or its associated country may recommission or leave a ship that is old or obsolete in commission with the regular force rather than decommissioning the vessel in question due to the historical significance or public sentiment for the ship in question, as has been the case with the ships USS Constitution and HMS Victory. Vessels preserved in this manner typically do not relinquish their names to other, more modern ships that may be in the design, planning, or construction phase of the parent nation's navy.
Prior to its formal decommissioning, the ship in question will begin the process of decommissioning by going through a preliminary step called inactivation or deactivation. During this phase, a ship will report to a naval facility owned by the country in question so as to permit the ship's crew to offload, remove, and dismantle the ship's weapons, ammunition, electronics, and other material that is judged to be of further use to the nation in question. The removed material from a ship usually ends up either rotating to another ship in the class with similar weapons and/or capabilities, or in storage pending a decision on equipment's fate. During this time a ship's crew may be thinned out via transfers and reassignments as the ongoing removal of equipment renders certain personnel (such as missile technicians or gun crews) unable to perform their duties on the ship in question. Certain aspects of a ship's deactivation – such as the removal or deactivation of a ship's nuclear weapons capabilities – may be governed by international treaties observed by the country in question, which can result in the presence of foreign officials authorized to inspect the weapon or weapon system in question to ensure compliance with a given treaty. Other aspects of a ship's decommissioning, such as the reprocessing of nuclear fuel from a ship utilizing a nuclear reactor or the removal of hazardous materials from a ship, are handled by the government in question according to the nation's domestic policies on such matters. When a ship finishes its inactivation, it is then formally decommissioned, after which the ship is usually towed to a storage facility.
In addition to the economic advantages of retiring a ship that has grown maintenance intensive or obsolete, the decommissioning frees up the name used by the ship, allowing vessels currently in the planning or building stages to inherit the name of the warship in question. Often, but not always, ships that are decommissioned end up spending the next few years in a reserve fleet before their ultimate fate is decided.
Information Courtesy of Wikipedia