The Officers, Chiefs, and Crew of USS MOBILE BAY said farewell to family and friends as they left sunny San Diego, deploying with JOHN C. STENNIS Strike Group on Wednesday, 27 July.
“It’s a sad day to have to leave the family,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Randy McKnight, “but also wonderful to finally be able to get underway and stay underway. This is a long awaited deployment that has everyone excited. It is also special to me because this may be my last deployment as well.”
The crew underwent great challenges and tribulations to get this far, but the reward were great. Finally deploying was exciting to many Sailors and Junior Officers, who have never deployed before. Now they get that opportunity of life time.
“This is sweet. I have always wanted to go overseas as a kid. Now I am living my dream and with a purpose that is meaningful,” said ENS Ryan Clifford.
The first week of deployment was challenging, eventful, and exciting to the crew, especially the Sailors of Operations Department. USS MOBILE BAY embarked a MH-60S helicopter from Helicopter Squadron 8 after completing ammunition onload in Seal Beach, CA. The pilots and the flight deck crew pay the utmost attention to safety. “The first few night ops [operations] of deployment,” said a Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Nicholas Holter, “ran late into the night running deck landing qualifications. Lots of good training, and a safe evolution. Looking forward to seeing more of them during deployment.”
“First UNREP [underway replenishment] of deployment,” said Boatswain’s Mate First Class Aaron Miller, “lots of good training that took place. Lots of new guys in key positions. Look forward to the next UNREP.” Underway replenishments (UNREPs), like many other routine events, are crucial but extremely dangerous evolutions. USS MOBILE BAY remained alongside USNS GUADALUPE at less than 200 feet, as heavy fuel rigs were passed back and forth. Those on the bridge remained alert, and ensured safety. Those Sailors at the UNREP stations took on fuel for both the ship as well as the MH-60S helicopter. And just like the bridge, they remained focused at the task at hand.
During the first week of deployment, five USS MOBILE BAY First Class Petty Officers, received some great news: they were selected for the rank of Chief Petty Officer!
“You’ll make me cry again,” said Chief Petty Officer Selectee Caroline Styffe, with a proud tear in her eye. “It’s what I worked for a long time, and I made my dad proud.”
Another selectee, Chief Petty Officer Selectee Anthony Azuela, had this to say: “It’s a great feeling. I’m still taking it all in. I’m excited, overwhelmed. This is a new journey in my life, and I’m ready to take this adventure. I didn’t get here by myself. It’s not a one-man effort; it takes a team.” Filled with pride, excitement, elation, and humbleness he continued, “You put me on the spot. I’ll never forget where I came from. I will continue to do great things. I will continue to train others to follow my footsteps, as in, one day, I will be relieved of the watch.”
Although this is the first week of deployment, morale is high as USS MOBILE BAY steams west, standing ready to defend our great nation and its ideals.