By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Families and friends welcomed back the guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, April 23, following completion of a successful eight-month deployment to the western Pacific and Arabian Gulf.
"I am exceptionally pleased and proud of the tremendous performance of every Sailor aboard Russell during this challenging deployment," said Cmdr. Joseph Carrigan, Russell's commanding officer. "I believe I speak for each member of the crew when I say that we are thrilled to be home with our families, friends and the greater Pearl Harbor Ohana."
Russell and its crew of nearly 300 Sailors conducted a wide range of operations, including ballistic missile defense, maritime security operations, and oil platform defense. Additionally, the ship and her crew participated in multinational exercises with NATO allies and Gulf partner nations in support of theater security cooperation and operations.
Mike McGuinness, the father of Seaman Matt McGuinness, flew from New Jersey to greet his son at the pier as the ship arrived.
"I thought it would be a good idea to come out and surprise him," said Mike. "This is his first deployment. He has been in the Navy for one and a half years."
While at the Arabian Gulf, Russell integrated with Carrier Strike Groups George H. W. Bush, John C. Stennis, and Abraham Lincoln, supporting a variety of missions. Additionally, Russell served as the Ballistic Missile Defense Commander platform for Commander Task Force 50 for two months, participating in 15 system operability tests, two joint air defense exercises, and a bilateral amphibious exercise with Saudi Arabia.
"While deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations, USS Russell consistently demonstrated unparalleled operational excellence and mission accomplishment while conducting maritime security operations, ballistic missile defense operations, maritime infrastructure protection, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support," said Carrigan.
The officers and crew enjoyed several port visits in the western Pacific, East Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the Middle East, including Guam, the Philippines, the Maldives, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong and continued the U.S. Navy's longstanding tradition of ambassadorship.
During the ship's visit to Gan, Maldives, Russell Sailors connected with their Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) counterparts and interacted with the local community. Russell Sailors participated in soccer matches and culinary exchanges where coast guardsmen from the Maldivian coast guard ship (CGS) Shaheed Ali taught Sailors how to cook traditional Maldivian dishes aboard Russell.
Guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatants. They operate independently for support of carrier and expeditionary strike groups and surface strike groups.