NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) manned the rails aboard the guided-missile destroyer April 25, as the ship departed Naval Station Norfolk and set sail for a six-month deployment in support of maritime operations.
To kick off the deployment, Arleigh Burke and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 staff will participate in Exercise Joint Warrior. Lasting two weeks, the exercise takes place off the coast of the United Kingdom and incorporates American and North Atlantic allied forces. Other U.S. ships paroticpating in the exercise include USS Philippine Sea (CV 58), USS Porter (DDG 78) and USNS Kanawha (T-AH 193).
Exercise Joint Warrior will encompass Fleet Irregular Warfare Training (FIWT) focusing heavily on more non-traditional warfare areas such as counterpiracy and theater security.
"We're going to get a lot of realistic practice for the new emergent threats out there," said Gunner's Mate 1st Class (SW) Benjamin O'Connor, a boarding officer for Arleigh Burke's visit, board, search and seizure team.
Arleigh Burke is slated to support the U.S. maritime strategy in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations during its deployment. During the ship's transit to the region, Sailors on board the destroyer will earn shipboard qualifications and participate in numerous emergency drills, making the "Built to Fight" crew more efficient and battle ready.
"There are lots of new issues arising all over the world at any given time," said Damage Controlman Fireman Michelle Orton. "Our Navy helps protect all of the seas, and we have to be ready for anything. The drills and scenarios we are constantly running give us the training we need to be better at what we do."
According to Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Anthony Smith, Arleigh Burke has had a high percentage of crew turnaround over the last year.
"We are going back to familiar waters with a fairly new team," said Smith. "We're motivating a solid crew, training up nicely and preparing for a successful mission. By the time we come home, we will have accomplished a whole lot."
For many junior Sailors on board, the deployment also marks the first underway in their naval careers.
"It's slowly starting to sink in that we're not going to be going back home for a while," said Orton. "It's just something we have to get used to, though, because deployments come with the territory. They were part of the job description."
Quartermaster 1st Class (SW) Vera Smith said that while she misses her family at home, she knows the crew has a very important job to do for the next six months at sea.
"We're going to be out keeping the peace, showing anybody with bad intentions that we're here, establishing our presence," said Smith. "Being away from your family is easier when you know that you're playing a part in helping your children grow up to experience the same freedoms you have enjoyed."
For more news from Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c2f/.