The briefly loved Grand Rapids, on the block
The U.S. Navy has always had a weird love-hate relationship with gunboats. Over the past two centuries, they crank them out for use in littoral operations that do not warrant a destroyer or cruiser, then quickly shed them while almost new to buy a couple more destroyers or cruisers that they can’t use in littoral situations.
One such example was the 17 Asheville-class gunboats built in the 1960s. Just 244-tons, the 164-foot ships were fast due to their CODOG hybrid gas turbine/diesel plant, could float in 10 feet of water, and packed a 76mm gun as well as other assorted party favors.
However, once Vietnam wrapped up and they lacked much of an immediate mission (never mind that Iran would implode in 1979 and leave the Persian Gulf as a chokepoint nightmare for a half-century), most of the class was pulled from the fleet and given to Third World allies who it was thought could better use them. A few stuck around in niche (non gunboat) roles into the 1980s and 90s, but they were the exception to the rule.
One of the last in such a niche was USS Grand Rapids (PGM-98/PG-98). After just seven years with the fleet, she was decommissioned on 1 October 1977 and transferred to the same day to the Naval Sea Systems Command where she was used as the disarmed research vessel Athena II (165NS762) for another 40 years.
Liquidated by the Navy in 2017, she is now docked in the Mobile, Alabama area in private hands and is for sale for $350K, should you be interested.