Rescue, Relief Highlight USS Reuben James Deployment
PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Greeted by families and friends, the guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57) returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 1, from a four-month independent deployment to the 7th Fleet's Area of Responsibility.
Reuben James operated with forward deployed naval forces and conducted a joint fisheries patrol with the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as with local nations, through Oceania to protect vital natural resources. Additionally the Hawaii-based ship conducted humanitarian relief and goodwill projects, including Project Handclasp, distributing medical and hygienic supplies in the Republic of the Philippines.
Reuben James Sailors presented 28 boxes of women and children's clothing and toys to the Alola Foundation and two orphanages during a ceremony in February during their visit to Dili, East Timor.
Reuben James Commanding Officer Cmdr. David Miller said that one of the highlights of the deployment was the rescue of two Filipino fishermen along the coast of Mindanao, Philippines, Feb. 13.
"We came across two fishermen, whose motor had stopped and they were adrift at sea about 25 miles off shore," said Miller. "We stopped and took the afternoon to rescue them. We fixed their boat and brought them in closer so they could go back in to their port. What really stuck out in my mind about that was when one of the fishermen related to us that he had a friend of his who was lost at sea about a week before and was never found."
Reuben James concluded their deployment by supporting the forward deployed naval forces from Yokosuka, Japan. On their return, families and friends anticipated the crew's return to Hawaii.
"It was overwhelming," said Katie Zimmerman, who was holding a "welcome home and happy birthday" sign during the homecoming. Her husband, Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Robert Zimmerman, was celebrating his 32nd birthday the same day as the homecoming. "This is a very good birthday present. This was our first deployment with kids. We just missed him terribly."
In August 1991, Reuben James moved from Long Beach, Calif., to Pearl Harbor. On October 1, 1998, she joined the Destroyer Squadron 31. Reuben James has a crew of about 250 officer and enlisted Sailors.
In addition to the ship's crew, members from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37 detachment 3 supported the deployment with two SH-60B/MH-60R helicopters.
"The support of our helicopter squadron was phenomenal," said Miller. "The work that they did really went a long way, extending our surveillance during our fisheries patrol as well as integrating completely with the forward deployed forces and the exercises that they were conducting."
Frigates fulfill a protection-of-shipping mission as Anti-Submarine Warfare combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups and merchant convoys.