The USS Philadelphia, a Los Angeles class attack submarine, was decommissioned today during a ceremony in New London, Connecticut. The occasion was bittersweet. Today also marked the 33-year anniversary of the vessel, which was commissioned June 25, 1977.

"It reached the end of its life span," said Navy spokesman Steven Myers. "Until it was decommissioned, it was the oldest submarine in the force."

The last cruise for the nuclear-powered sub will be to Norfolk, Va., where it will be dismantled and recycled.

Rear Admiral Douglas J. McAneny, the seventh commanding officer of the Philadelphia, was on hand to pay a final visit and eat one more meal in the wardroom.

"The soul of USS Philadelphia lives on forever in her crews," said McAneny, now Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "We gather today not only to recognize the important role played by the leaders, the crew members, and the families but to say goodbye to our boat – USS Philadelphia."

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com.