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Now resting on the seafloor, USS Ogden was launched 60 years ago in New York

By Ryan Aston - | Jun 27, 2024
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In this photo taken Aug. 22, 2003, the USS Ogden (LPD 5) leaves Naval Station San Diego to begin a regularly scheduled deployment. The 569-foot-long amphibious warfare ship was part of the first Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG-1). The amphibious landing dock ship was named after the city of in Utah and was commissioned on June 16, 1965.
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Artifacts from the 1964 launching of the USS Ogden.
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In this photo taken July 10, 2014, the decommissioned U.S. Navy dock landing ship USS Ogden (LPD 5) is hit by a naval strike missile from the Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F 310) during a sink exercise as part of RIMPAC 2014.

Sixty years ago Thursday — on June 27, 1964 — the USS Ogden was launched at the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn.

The amphibious transport dock was the fifth ship of its class and the second ship of the U.S. Navy’s fleet to bear the name “Ogden,” which was given in honor of Ogden, Utah, as well as the British-Canadian fur trapper the city was named for: Peter Skene Ogden.

To mark the occasion, the warship was sponsored (or christened) by Janice Shupe Burton, a North Ogden native who was the wife of then-U.S. Rep. Laurence J. Burton.

According to their son, also named Laurence Burton, who was 4 years old when he attended the launching ceremony, Janice Burton took pride in her participation.

“One of her proudest moments was when she cracked that champagne bottle with her very first swing across the bow of the USS Ogden,” the younger Burton told the Standard-Examiner.

Multiple warships were launched that day, including the USS Austin, which was sponsored by Lynda Bird Johnson, daughter of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

As it is recounted in Burton family lore, Janice’s roots as a Weber County farm girl helped her best the president’s daughter that day.

“She had eight brothers. As a result, she had to be very athletic and she was raised to compete. … Ms. Johnson needed three or four swings to break her bottle,” Burton recalled. “It was just kind of a family thing. We’d talk about it and laugh about it and celebrate it and cheer mom on for doing a better job.”

The USS Ogden was commissioned June 19, 1965, with Capt. Floyd M. Symon taking command of the vessel, per naval historical documents.

In her first year of service, the Ogden was twice deployed to Vietnam (in early 1966). It was the following year that Mark Stephens, who now serves as treasurer for the USS Ogden LPD-5 Reunion Association, boarded the vessel for the first time.

“I was on the ship from 1967 to 1970. I lived on her for three years, six months and two days,” Stephens told the Standard-Examiner.

Stephens saw a lot during his time aboard the Ogden, including some of the harshest storms Mother Nature could concoct.

“The Ogden did a lot of miles in her time. And we went through a lot of typhoons in Vietnam as well. And the ship took a beating,” he said. “I saw waves that were 100 feet high. When you go up, you become weightless; it throws you up. Then, when you come down, you go into these troughs. And when we were up, you looked down at a trough and that trough was 80 to 90 feet deep.”

Stephens noted that he crossed the Pacific Ocean some 15 times while aboard the vessel, which was deployed in conflicts ranging from the Vietnam War in the 1960s to Operations Desert Storm/Shield and Operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom (in the 1990s and 2000s, respectively).

The Ogden also was part of the oil spill task force created in the wake of the headline-making Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. The ship spent much of July and August that year at Prince William Sound off the Gulf of Alaska assisting in clean-up operations.

After more than four decades of action, the Ogden was finally decommissioned from the U.S. Navy in February 2007. Seven years later, it would meet its fate at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

On July 10, 2014, the Ogden was used as a missile target during the biennial Exercise RIMPAC. It was sunk by vessels from the South Korean Navy and the Royal Norwegian Navy as part of the exercises.

The ship’s demise was impactful for people like Stephens, who quite literally spent years of their lives on board.

“Oh, yes. I mean, it was my home,” Stephens said when asked if the Ogden’s sinking affected him. “And there’s a lot of guys that have feelings about her. … I’ll be sitting in my living room wishing I was back on her, back out at sea.”

Stephens’ organization hosts annual reunions for people who served on the Ogden. This year, the reunion will be held in Boise, Idaho, from Sept. 16-18.

Janice Burton passed away in 1999, but her son and his wife are planning to attend the reunion. And they’ll be bringing artifacts from the ship’s launching with them, including the champagne bottle that Janice used to christen the vessel.

For information on the USS Ogden’s 2024 reunion event, go to https://www.ussogdenreunion.com/.


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