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USS Mobile Bay Comes Home to Cheers and Appreciation

Navy NewStand

Story Number: NNS030501-22
Release Date: 5/1/2003 3:42:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW) Jason Heavner, Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Mobile Bay's (CG 53) record nine-month deployment came to an end April 25.

As the Ticonderoga-class cruiser approached Pier 2 at Naval Station San Diego, many spouses and family members eagerly awaited to see their beloved Sailor for the first time since July.

As the ship was pulling in, a veritable sea of red, white and blue wandered through the crowd, as well as signs and banners to catch the attention of their Sailor manning the rails of the guided-missile cruiser - a cruiser that, in the previous month, was in the middle of a conflict in the Middle East.

Mobile Bay is part of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group, which was heading home during the holidays from being on station in the Arabian Gulf conducting maritime intercept operations and inspecting boats for Al Qaeda operatives.

While they stopped for a port visit in Australia, they were ordered to return to the Gulf as tensions rose in Iraq. They arrived back in the Gulf in late January to stand by in the 5th Fleet area of operations.

As coalition forces started their air assault on military targets in Iraq, Mobile Bay and USS Shiloh (CG 67) fired multiple Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles inside of the country as Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced. The strike group continued to fire Tomahawks over a span of seven days.

As Iraq fell to coalition forces three weeks later, Mobile Bay left the Gulf again and transited straight back to their home port of San Diego.

During the deployment, Mobile Bay came home with ten new fathers, as newborn babies were waiting on the pier, as well as baby gift bags for their proud dads. The bags were donated from Military Outreach Ministries, a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the churches of the Presbytery of San Diego

"Along with getting these bags organized, we made sure the fathers got photos of the new family additions through e-mail. From there, they were featured at chaplain services during deployment," said Julia Roper, one of three Mobile Bay ombudsmen.

During this deployment, Mobile Bay was also the first ship to be a part of Optimal Manning, a directive that was introduced by the Chief of Naval Operations, where the crew was reduced by 17 percent.

"Optimal manning was a tremendous success. With this program, it allowed more cross-training, and with a smaller crew, there was more camaraderie amongst the deckplates. We were basically like one big family at sea," said Capt. James Kear, commanding officer of Mobile Bay.

"It feels like we've been gone forever. This is definitely a happy day for all of us (Mobile Bay crew members), and I'm glad to be home," said Operations Specialist Christopher Adams, of Charlotte, N.C.

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