Under the command of Cmdr. Fraser Hudson, Missouri returned from the European Command (EUCOM) areas of responsibility (AOR) where the crew executed the chief of naval operations' maritime strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.
"Missouri conducted operations in the EUCOM AOR as part of the U.S. Navy's forward presence in support of national interests," said Hudson. "The extended operations also provide critical experience to our future submarine leaders. This is essential to maintaining an experienced submarine force, ready to operate in any environment."
During the deployment Missouri steamed approximately 37,000 nautical miles, or 42,578 standard miles, equal to approximately 1.7 trips around the world at the equator or driving nearly 7.3 trips between New London to San Diego. Port visits were conducted in Faslane, Scotland; Rota, Spain, and Brest, France.
Like the Missouri and her crew, some loved ones attending the homecoming ceremony also travelled great distances. Some from warm weather states like California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona to brave the coldest day of Groton's winter.
The cold weather didn't dampen the friends and families' enthusiasm as they held signs and cheered as Missouri was guided alongside the pier.
The first person to welcome her Sailor home was Katy Slavin who won the traditional "first kiss" from her husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Slavin Jr.
Clara Grace Abplanalp said she got "the best birthday present ever," when she won the first hug and welcomed her father, Missouri Weapons Officer Lt. Chris Abplanalp, home.
Another Missouri Sailor was working hard below decks so his shipmates could enjoy time with their friends and family.
"I didn't think I had anyone waiting for me on the pier, then my chief came down, very casually and said I should go topside," said Seaman Daniel Martin.
When he got to the pier he was surprised to find his mother and grandmother waiting for him.
"Wow, this is the best surprise ever!" said a stunned yet, happy Martin. "I had no idea. Wow! I can't believe it."
Martin may be new to the Navy, but another Sailor was not. Erin Mills met her husband Chief Petty Officer Aaron Mills who is set to retire in June after 20 years of service. This is most likely his last homecoming ceremony before retiring.
As Mills gets ready to close one chapter of his life, Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Schneider will start another as learned that his wife, Leigh is expecting their first child after they shared a port visit in Faslane, Scotland.
Reigning Ms. Connecticut 2015 USA Ambassador, Kaitlyn Olson welcomed the crew and her husband, Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Ingino, home. Olson's attendance was part for herself and part for her title.
"Since being crowned, I have had so many wonderful opportunities," said Olson. "My platform is working with military families in need and I have attended many veteran's events and met many wonderful veterans and their families."
The friends and family of the Missouri crew are happy to have their Sailors home safe and the Sailors are happy to be reunited with their loved ones. But, it can also be bitter sweet for the close-knit crew of a fast attack submarine.
Hudson said he was proud of the crew's tireless work and accomplishments on deployment, as well as, the families' extra work at home, which allowed he and his crew to deploy successfully.
"It's wonderful to be home with our family and friends. I am personally looking forward to hearing all about what my wife and two children did while I was away," said Hudson. "Though, a part of me will miss Missouri. She was our home for the last six months, she carried us across and under the ocean and then returned us safely home."
Fast-attack Submarines like Missouri are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core-capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. The submarine is designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance; irregular warfare and mine warfare - from open ocean anti-submarine warfare to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, to projecting power ashore with special operation forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.
Commissioned July 31, 2010, Missouri is the seventh Virginia-class submarine and the fifth U.S. Navy ship to be named for the state of Missouri. It is 377 feet long with a beam of 34 feet. Virginia-class, fast-attack submarines have a crew of approximately 132, made up of 15 officers and 117 enlisted Sailors.