MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Sailors manned the rails of USS McInerney (FFG 8), as the ship returned to Naval Station Mayport April 15 after a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR).
This deployment marked the 14th deployment for the 30-year old, gas turbine ship. This feat is no small endeavor and is credited to its crew of dedicated Sailors.
"It takes a very focused crew to keep a ship like this in operational status, a crew that works very hard at the material readiness of their ship," said Cmdr. Paul Young, McInerney's commanding officer. "We have hit all our commitments, and it all boils down to the crew."
"The crew has taken good care of the ship, and we have been through many inspections and maintenance periods to make sure we were fully capable to run a 30-year old ship," said Command Master Chief John T. Lawry, McInerney's command master chief.
The deployment was a busy, yet successful and included more than 50 Sailors earning their Enlisted Surface Warfare Pins, said Lawry.
"We had a lot of good days, every day we advanced a Sailor was a good day, every day we pinned on a warfare pin was a good day, those are all good days. We recently raised the retention pennant and that's a real good indication that we are doing the right thing by our crew and Sailors," said Lawry.
McInerney worked with other partner nations in the SOUTHCOM AOR and the deployment was full of successes.
"This deployment went very well, we disrupted nearly 10 tons of narcotics, we did four multinational exercises and executed various operations, its been a great a deployment," said Young.
Some of the narcotics disrupted marked another first for McInerney. Their most recent drug bust April 3 was achieved with assistance from the embarked MQ-8B Fire Scout, the first Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle aboard a U.S. Navy ship
McInerney has a continued history of firsts. On their last deployment in 2008 they were the first ship to ever capture a Self Propelled Semi-Submersible drug smuggling vessel.
During its long career in the Navy, FFG 8, served the United States during 14 deployments, from the Middle East in 1984, to the Caribbean in 1993 and finally in South America in 2010.
"There were some tough moments, as with most deployments. There are always challenges, but every day you get up and face those challenges head on," said Lawry. "Each day is another day closer to completing your mission, another day closer to being home with family and another day closer to bringing everyone home safely," said Lawry.
McInerney returned home to Mayport after completing its mission proud to serve on the oldest operating gas turbine ship in the Navy.
For more news from Naval Station Mayport, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsmayport/.