NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) returned to Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Dec. 10, after a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th areas of responsibility.
While in theater, Mitscher conducted maritime security operations and security cooperation efforts, and supported Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. Mitscher was assigned to various task forces combating piracy and terrorism, conducting escort and humanitarian missions and standing by to launch missiles at a moment's notice. She also served the Navy's mission to build global maritime partnerships through joint exercises and operations with the British, Spanish, Pakistani, Montenegrin, Croatian and Albanian navies.
"It was a highly successful deployment. It was deployment of a lot of firsts with (aircraft carrier) George H.W. Bush. The crew performed magnificently across every department and the ship was ready to answer bells at all times and put ordnance on target. We did everything we were asked to do, and we were on time, ready, willing and able," said Cmdr. Brian K. Sorenson, Mitscher's commanding officer.
After seven port visits, including Albania, Montenegro, Bahrain, The Republic of Seychelles, Portugal and two to the United Arab Emirates, the crew of approximately 300 Sailors, including 39 new enlisted surface warfare specialists, 10 new surface warfare officers and 12 new fathers, is excited to be with their families and friends again.
Command Master Chief William J. Mullinax said the crew, from the most junior Sailor to the most senior, is glad to be back after performing their duties and accomplishing their mission
"This is my 11th deployment. The mission may be different every time, but that feeling of excitement and the happiness of being home stays the same. It doesn't go away, no matter how many deployments you have done." said Mullinax.
"It's great to finally be home after a long and trying deployment. We did a lot of great things out there, but I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and seeing how much my baby girl has grown," said Yeoman 1st Class Chad Shortridge.
Some crewmembers didn't have to wait to see their loved ones. Mitscher made a brief stop at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Dec. 8, to pick up family members for a "tiger cruise" to homeport. During the two-day cruise, guests were treated to weapons demonstrations, front-row seats to replenishment-at-sea and a chance to see how Mitscher held up in a drag race against other ships in her strike group.
"It's a unique opportunity to be on board a U.S. Navy ship," said Tony Knight, Shortridge's brother-in-law and guest for the cruise.
"It's interesting to see how everything operates, and to be on board for the homecoming was amazing. It's pretty special to see if from the other side, to see how everyone gets prepared and just be a part of the excitement. I'm honored to have been a part of it," Knight said.
Mitscher was deployed as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group. The strike group consisted of Carrier Strike Group 2 staff, Carrier Air Wing 8, Destroyer Squadron 22 staff, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64), and USS Anzio (CG 68) and guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103).
For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.