ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- USS Barry (DDG 52) arrived in Rota, Spain, June 26 after more than five months deployed to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
For Barry's chief engineer, Lt. Thomas Ralston, a native of El Puerto Santa Maria, Spain, the port visit was significant as it was his first visit home since 2008.
"It was an honor to be partially responsible for sailing this ship through the Cadiz Bay into the Rota inner harbor safely," said Ralston, who served as the ship's conning officer as Barry entered Rota's harbor. "These are the same waters I learned how to sail in as a kid. This bay brings back very fond memories. Now, it's a new set of memories."
According to Ralston, his parents met while his father was stationed in Rota. He was born on the base and spent a most of his childhood in Puerto Santa Maria, a town near Rota.
"I always look forward to coming back here and visiting family and friends," said Ralston. "There are so many things to look forward to around this area. Sailors should have no problem finding fun things to do."
While in Rota, Sailors are making memories of their own by taking advantage of some of the tours provided by the base's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department.
Some of the tours offered are dinner and a flamenco show, day trips to Seville, Gibraltar and Cadiz.
"I've been to Gibraltar during a previous deployment," said Chief Fire Controlman Kenneth Lilley. "It's a great tour and the highlight for most people is the friendly monkeys that jump up onto people's shoulders."
Unlike Ralston, most Sailors aboard Barry will not have the opportunity to see friends and family until the ship pulls into Newport, R.I., where the ship will pick up family and friends who will embark Barry for its transit back to Norfolk.
"I feel fortunate that I get to see some of my family here in Spain and the rest when we get back to the states," said Ralston.
Rota is often a stop for many ships prior to them arriving and departing the Mediterranean Sea.
The mission of Naval Station Rota is to support Naval Forces Europe/Naval Forces Africa, U.S. 6th Fleet and unified combatant command's strategic priorities by providing airfield and port facilities, security, force protection, logistical support, administrative support and emergency services to U.S. and NATO forces.
Barry is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.