NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) returned to Norfolk Naval Station today following the successful completion of her final scheduled deployment.
Elrod deployed to the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet area of operations in late January advancing national security interests in Europe and Africa, conducting maritime and theater security operations and partner-building exercises.
The ship conducted port visits to Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia in support of enhancing maritime partnerships.
In Mauritania, crewmembers conducted damage control and vessel boarding, search and seizure (VBSS) training for members of the Mauritanian Navy. In addition, they hosted a reception for foreign dignitaries and military officers. In Morocco, the Elrod crew hosted another reception and engaged in a Passing Exercise through the Straits of Gibraltar with the Moroccan Navy.
"It was gratifying to work with our African partners and continue to build relationships that benefit all of our navies," said Cmdr. Brad L. Stallings, Elrod's commanding officer.
The crew also visited Greece, Portugal and Italy. While in Sicily, the crew volunteered some of their off-duty time to clean a public park as part of a community relations project.
Also, while patrolling the Mediterranean Sea, Elrod assisted USS Bataan (LHD 5) in the rescue of 282 persons in distress.
"It was a really interesting and cool thing to be a part of," said Seaman Ulysses Valencia, speaking of the rescue.
During their time at sea, many Sailors excelled on an individual level, helping one another achieve various watchstanding and warfare qualifications, as well as other major career milestones. Fifty three Sailors earned their Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification, six Sailors reenlisted, and 25 advanced in rate during this deployment.
Elrod was commissioned in 1985 and named after U.S. Marine Corps aviator, Maj. Henry T. Elrod. He was the first aviator to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II, which was awarded posthumously for his heroism in the defense of Wake Island on Dec. 11, 1941.
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.