Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bainbridge Returns Home to a Heroes' Welcome

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Santos Huante, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) returned home to Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Sept. 21 after a seven-month deployment supporting the Eisenhower Strike Group in the 5th and 6th Fleet area of operations.

Bainbridge's 300 Sailors patrolled the trade corridor in the Gulf of Aden combating and preventing piracy.

Bainbridge was conducting surveillance April 8, on the northern Somali coast when the American container ship MV Maresk Alabama was seized by Somali pirates and the ship's master, Capt. Richard Phillips, taken hostage.

"We just happened to be at the right place at the right time," said Cmdr. Frank Castellano, Bainbridge commanding officer.

Castellano and his crew responded, coordinating hostage negotiations and embarking special operations forces.

"[The Navy] follows the rules of engagement and when we received word that his life was in jeopardy, I gave the order," said Castellano.

The stand-off ended April 12 with the rescue of Phillips, one pirate captured, and three pirates killed.

"[The crew] was enthusiastic, relieved and there was jubilation upon receiving Capt. Phillips," said Castellano.

Bainbridge also escorted the American vessel Liberty Sun, protecting it from a pirate attack, and prevented attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden when two suspect pirate vessels were intercepted.