SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) returned to Naval Base San Diego Thursday, August 11, after a 205 day deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation.
Stockdale deployed with the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyers USS Chung Hoon (DDG 93) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) as part of Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG 3) in order to provide presence, support freedom of navigation, and strengthen multi-national relationships in the Western Pacific.
“I am really proud of our Sailors,” said Cmdr. Raphael Castillejo, commanding officer of Stockdale. “We deployed into a tense situation in the South China Sea, and we asked our Sailors to execute mission after mission. Not only did they respond with efficiency and professionalism, they did so with a level of perseverance that I found invigorating.”
Consisting of over 300 personnel, including a combat element from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, the ship sailed more than 56,000 nautical miles and conducted over 700 hours of flight operations in support of CSG 3.
Stockdale also operated independently of the Stennis Strike Group during Exercise Komodo in Indonesia, which consisted of participants from 18 navies. Additionally, she finished deployment by working with a Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) task force during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016 exercise in waters around Hawaii in July.
The crew enjoyed port visits in Guam, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines and Hawaii. While ashore, 60 sailors participated in seven community relations events which further strengthened ties with foreign communities.
“These events were great opportunities for our sailors,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Chris Llanes. “We were able to serve many communities during our port visits and shared fellowship with them. We represented the presence of the United States Navy everywhere we went.”
The return to San Diego was emotional for the Sailors, who manned the ships’ rails in their “dress white” uniform, and for their families and friends who waited anxiously on the pier. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” blared on the ship’s speakers as Stockdale made its final approach. Liberty call commenced soon after the ship was moored, leading to joyous - and tearful - reunions.
The homecoming was especially poignant for Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Zachary Lang, whose daughter was born February 14th.
“It’s been a great deployment, but it had its tough moments too,” said Lang. “Not being able to be there with my wife and baby was the hardest part. However, [my wife] supported me every step of the way and I’m just happy we’re all reunited.”
The ship will have a brief stand down before entering an extensive dry-docking phase in October. The yard period will be highlighted by the first-ever installation of a Hybrid Electric Drive.
Commissioned in 2009, USS Stockdale (DDG 106) is part of Naval Surfaces Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21) and U.S. 3rd Fleet.
For more information on Navy Surface Forces visit the Commander, Naval Surface Forces website at http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/Pages/home.aspx.