Friday, October 03, 2008

USS Russell Returns from Western Pacific Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael A. Lantron, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) returned to their homeport of Naval Station (NAVSTA) Pearl Harbor Oct. 1 following a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific in support of the global war on terrorism.

"It's been a long deployment so it feels great to be home," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman Ryan Cook. "I've been waiting five months to finally meet my daughter [for the first time] and it's an amazing feeling."

Cook added that he was proud of his other shipmates and was glad to be a member of Russell's crew for the deployment.

"We have a great crew here," said Cook. "We all worked long days and nights during the deployment to make sure the job was done."

The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band and hula dancers performed while friends and family held 'welcome home' signs and waved to the Sailors as the ship came alongside the pier.

"I'm so excited that I'm at a loss for words," said a wife of a Russell Sailor. "It's great to finally see them come home."

After the ship moored and the brow was in place, Sailors rushed down the brow to embrace loved ones on the pier and enjoy well-deserved liberty.

"It's great to see all of the family and friends on the pier waiting for us on such a beautiful day," said Cmdr. Jeff Weston, Russell's commanding officer. "It makes coming home that much more special."

Weston also added his thanks to the Sailors for a mission accomplished.

"The crew performed spectacularly," said Weston. "We spent very little time in port and they all did amazing work out there. Every mission we were tasked with we performed flawlessly and it's a credit to them."

Russell and her crew departed Pearl Harbor on March 24 as part of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group. Supporting Maritime Security Operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations, Russell helped develop security in the maritime environment and promoted stability and global prosperity.

During the deployment, Russell interacted with coalition forces, offered humanitarian assistance to a stranded boat with 70 Somalis onboard, participated in joint exercises, and pulled into six ports, where its crew contributed to the host nation in community relations projects.

Russell is 505 feet in length, 66 feet wide and has a maximum speed of 30 plus knots. The primary mission of Russell is to destroy enemy aircraft, missiles, submarines, surface ships, and land targets. Russell is normally assigned to a carrier strike group and brings significant capabilities to the battle force, carrying the latest technology in all areas of modern warfare.