NAVY WIRE SERVICE (NWS) - 21 December 1998 - NWS21dec-2. USS Merrimack decommissioned in Norfolk by SURFLANT Public Affairs NORFOLK (NWS) --USS Merrimack (AO 179) was decommissioned Dec. 18 at Naval Station Norfolk. Merrimack, the fourth ship to bear the name, was commissioned in New Orleans Nov. 14, 1981. She transported bulk petroleum products, fleet freight and personnel from shore depots to combatants and support forces afloat. Merrimack's service to the fleet included seven deployments to the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, and visits to the Eastern Pacific and Arabian Gulf. Merrimack played a vital role in numerous NATO exercises and took part in peacekeeping efforts in Lebanon, the Middle East and Bosnia. In 1993, Merrimack responded quickly, providing logistic support to units participating in Operation "Restore Democracy" off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In 1994, while deployed to the Red Sea, Merrimack became the first fleet oiler to participate in the multi-national Red Sea Maritime Intercept Force. Ship's company boarded and searched 10 merchant vessels in support of U.N. sanctions against Iraq. -USN-