Thursday, June 12, 2008

USS Crommelin Returns to Pearl Harbor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Wallace Ciccarelli Jr., Fleet Public Affairs Det. Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) returned to her homeport at Naval Station Pearl Harbor (NAVSTA PH) June 8, after a deployment to Latin America and the Eastern Pacific.

The ship and her crew of approximately 200 Sailors deployed Nov. 27, 2007, to the Naval Forces Southern Command area of operations via the Panama Canal to engage in monitoring, detecting counter-narcotics activities and community relations projects.

"The crew was superb in every aspect of the deployment; I would take this crew anywhere," said Cmdr. Patrick Huete, commanding officer of Crommelin. "It's very professionally rewarding to take a ship on deployment and to be gone for six-and-half months, be able to go through all the events that we did on the other side of the world and bring the crew back safely to Pearl Harbor."

Huete noted the ship confiscated approximately $71 million dollars worth of cocaine.

"The deployment went very well in helping to deter the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States," said Huete.

While in port at Cartegena, Colombia, some of the crew volunteered their liberty time to work at a local school and off-loaded nearly 1,200 pounds of charitable goods from Project Handclasp for donation. Donated items included toys and medical supplies.

"The performance of the crew helping these countries we visited was outstanding and a true show to our commitment as goodwill ambassadors," said Chief Hull Maintenance Technician (SW) Robert Thompson, repair division leading chief petty officer. "Anything that arose, the crew came together and handled it professionally."

During the deployment, the crew visited numerous ports in Latin America, including Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Panama City, Panama; Cartagena, Columbia; and Trujillo, Peru.

Also returning from operations were the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77) and the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57).

O'Kane and Reuben James departed NAVSTA PH, April 18, to join the Nimitz Expeditionary Strike Group as part of the Pacific Fleet's new Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment.

For some of the Sailors, it was their first deployment and the first time visiting another country.

"It was really exciting, I didn't know what to expect and now that it is all over, it was more than I could have hoped for in a deployment," said Hull Maintenance Technician Fireman David O'Brian. "It really feels great to be back home and to see my wife after such a long time."

As the ship approached the pier, family and friends of the crew lined up waving "welcome home" signs.

"It feels great that he's coming home after such a long time; we have missed him greatly," said Michelle Pease, Crommelin command ombudsmen. "We have coped with many deployments by reminding ourselves that every day that passes is just one more day closer till he gets home."

After the ships moored and the brow was in place, the ship held a "first kiss" ceremony and Sailors were released to greet their loved ones waiting on the pier.

"This was his first time being on a deployment of this length and it is so amazing to be able to not only see him again but to be the first to give their love one a kiss," said the wife of a Crommelin Sailor.

Crommelin is a versatile, multi-mission warship, able to execute a variety of war fighting tasks for the nation. Frigates fulfill a protection of shipping mission as anti-submarine warfare combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups and merchant convoys.

Guided-missile destroyers provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, expeditionary strike groups, and underway replenishment groups.