PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Families and friends greeted guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57) with as the ship returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, after an independent deployment to the western Pacific, June 20.
Commanded by Cmdr. David E. Miller, the crew of approximately 25 officers and 200 enlisted Sailors, conducted integrated operations in conjunction with coalition partners deployed to the western Pacific.
"The highlight of the deployment was definitely coming home," said Miller. "It's always great to come home. We've had terrific support from our friends and families. The support has been with us all throughout."
Katie Zimmerman, Reuben James' ombudsman, said she looks forward to seeing her husband again after more than four months deployed.
"It's very exciting," said Zimmerman. "It's been a long time coming. It's been a lot of hard work and a long time being away from our family and friends. We're very looking forward to them coming home."
Zimmerman created a paper-linked chain for her family as a means to count down the days until their Sailor returned home from deployment.
"We tear one link off every night to count our way to daddy's homecoming," said Zimmerman. "We started 45 days out because our three-year-old and younger do not have the concept of how long that is until they can see it."
During the ship's deployment, Reuben James conducted fisheries patrol in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of various Pacific Island nations.
"We transited through some of the best fishing areas of the world, what they call the tuna belt," said Miller. "The Pacific nations consider these areas the primary source of their economy."
Reuben James, together with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37 Easy Riders, embarked with its SH-60B helicopters, and linked with the Federated States of Micronesia patrol boats, to conduct combined patrols monitoring fishing activity.
The patrol focused on detecting and reporting illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing throughout the EEZs of the island nations and on the high seas. Reuben James coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard District 14 headquarters based in Honolulu.
Reuben James was later deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to promote peace and stability in the region, and strengthen interoperability with allied countries sharing common interests of maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian and disaster assistance cooperation. Reuben James also made port visits to countries such as Japan, Indonesia and Brunei.
"We participated in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with both Indonesia and Thailand," said Miller. "We had a supporting role in Operation Tomodachi; after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, we escorted USS George Washington (CVN 73) during the operation."
Reuben James also conducted community outreach projects and activities with their host nation.
"Thailand was pretty nice," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman (SW) Kalum Morrison who played badminton with the Thai people. "I've seen a lot. I've learned a lot. I experienced a whole lot of different cultures. It's just good to see all these different places and meet new people."
Reuben James, with embarked HSL 37, is a multi-mission surface combatant, capable of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) missions.