Saturday, December 06, 2008

USS Elrod Returns From Med Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mandy Hunsucker, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Approximately 200 Sailors greeted friends and family members, Dec. 3, when the guided-missile frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) returned to Naval Station Norfolk after completing a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Elrod supported theater security cooperation by participating in regional exercises with allies and making diplomatic port calls.

The crowd waited patiently while line handlers moored the ship to the pier.

"We are very glad he's back, and we can't wait to see him," said Duanda Brown of Elrod Sailor Electrician's Mate 1st Class Derrick Brown. "It's been so long, and I can't wait to introduce him to his new nephew today."

After some time past, Sailors were able to greet their loved ones.

"This was my first deployment, and it wasn't bad at all," said Fire Controlman 2nd Class (SW) Greg Waikel as he met his new son for the first time. "We hit almost 30 ports, and I got to see a lot of new things. It was fun but I'm glad to be home."

The crew visited 26 different ports where it participated in regional exercises with allies and strengthened American diplomacy.

"The crew performed exceptionally throughout the deployment," said Cmdr. Todd Beltz, commanding officer, Elrod. "With 26 port calls in 24 weeks, we were never able to get into a routine, and that's one of the things you try to do while deployed. Everything they did, from sea-and-anchor details to interactions with the many countries, was top-notch."

Elrod is a multipurpose escort vessel deployed for the protection of amphibious groups, convoys and underway replenishment forces. In peacetime, Elrod can be employed as an escort with strike groups or operate independently in support of a variety of missions including theater security cooperation, counter narco-terrorism operations, maritime security operations and air, surface and undersea warfare.