WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Navy has set up a schedule for retiring 16 aging frigates in a budget- cutting move that prompted the last secretary of the service to resign.

The Pentagon said Thursday the Navy had decided to remove from active service 10 of the frigates by the end of this calendar year and the remaining six in 1989.

The first eight of the 16 ships being retired prematurely will be decommissioned during the month of September, the Pentagon said. The last of the 16 will be retired in September 1989.

''The final disposition of each ship has not been determined,'' the statement added.

''Crewmembers will be reassigned to other Navy commands based on manning priorities. Every consideration will be given to satisfy individual duty preferences and minimize family and command difficulties.''

The 16 ships are operated by more than 5,100 sailors.

Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci announced early this year in unveiling the Pentagon's fiscal 1989 budget proposal the Navy would retire 16 older frigates and postpone indefinitely its goal of building a 600-ship fleet.

The defense chief said the move was just one of several designed to shrink U.S. military forces rather than maintain a ''hollow'' force that wasn't ready to fight.

That decision was roundly - and publicly - criticized by Navy Secretary James H. Webb, who asserted Carlucci and his aides had ignored realistic budget alternatives he advanced. Saying he could not work for Carlucci under the circumstances, Webb abruptly resigned in February.

Thursday, the Pentagon said the Navy was preparing to begin the decommissioning of the Brooke-class and Garcia-class frigates in September ''due to fiscal restraints.''

The Pentagon also acknowledged, however, that four of the 16 ships slated for retirement were now in the midst of overhauls. In each case, the overhauls will be completed before the ship is retired.

The Navy said the four overhauls were costing a total of $78.5 million and were under way before the decision was made to retire the ships. The service also estimated it would cost $11.2 million to mothball the vessels - or $700,000 per ship. The Navy declined to estimate how much money it would save in operating costs.

It released the following schedule for decommissioning:

-USS Talbot, Mayport, Fla., September 1988.

-USS Page, Norfolk, Va., September 1988.

-USS Edward McDonnell, Mayport, September 1988.

-USS Bradley, San Diego, September 1988.

-USS Brooke, San Diego, September 1988.

-USS Ramsey, San Diego, September 1988.

-USS Schofield, San Diego, September 1988.

-USS Sample, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, September 1988.

-USS O'Callahan, San Diego, November 1988.

-USS Davidson, Pearl Harbor, December 1988.

-USS Furer, Charleston, S.C., January 1989.

-USS Garcia, Charleston, March 1989.

-USS Brumby, Charleston, March 1989.

-USS Voge, Mayport, August 1989.

-USS Koelsch, Mayport, September 1989.

-USS Albert David, San Diego, September 1989.

The four ships currently receiving overhauls are the Furer, the Garcia, the Brumby and the Koelsch.