Friends, Families Welcome Back USS Philippine Sea
By Lt.j.g. Andrew P. Learned
USS Philippine Sea
The Navy-band, new mothers, happy children, and proud parents were all on the Bravo Pier of Naval Station Mayport Tuesday afternoon to welcome home the Sailors of the USS Philippine Sea.
More than 900 family, friends and loved ones were in attendance; including 12 new babies born since the ship deployed on May 13.
USS Philippine Sea returned home after a six-month overseas deployment. The cruiser participated in Operation Active Endeavor (the NATO actions in Lybia), anti-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa, and goodwill missions with our allies in the Baltic and Black Seas.
During the course of its operations the ship rescued 26 sailors from the Motor Tanker Brillante Virtuoso that had been set ablaze after a pirate attack 20 miles from the coast of Yemen. They also provided assistance to a skiff of 50 Somali men, women, and children, who had been stranded at sea for four days without food or water.
“It was an extremely rewarding deployment” exclaimed Chaplain Jon Black “we did some good work over there.”
Proud first-time father, Petty Officer Mark Spurling summed up the event when he simply explained “I am just ready to go home and hold my baby daughter!”
The cruiser made calls in 10 ports ranging from Norway to the sub-tropical Seychelles, and from as far west as Spain to Bahrain. In between were Germany, Egypt, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
Throughout these visits, the crew participated in community service projects, trained with local military and hosted receptions aboard the ship for local military and civilian leadership, all in an effort to promote peace and stability in the Black Sea region.
“These port visits were great strides in the direction of our maritime partnership in the Black Sea,” said Capt. Steve Shinego, Philippine Sea’s commanding officer. “We were given a unique opportunity to be great ambassadors for the U.S., while also given the opportunity to share our knowledge and skill as Sailors. [This] helps build a long-lasting friendship with the host nations through multiple community service projects and receptions.”
Shinego emphasized the value the U.S. places on its military partnerships in the Black Sea region. In June, the guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey (CG 61) and USS Anzio (CG 68) along with other U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel and 11 other countries visited the Black Sea region for exercise Sea Breeze. ??
“These exercises improve maritime safety, security and stability in the Black Sea by enhancing the capabilities of Black Sea regional maritime security forces,” said Shinego.??
A notable part of Philippine Sea’s deployment was embarking four Bulgarian sailors aboard the ship for two weeks of at-sea training. The training was designed to give the Bulgarian sailors a better understanding of how the U.S. Navy conducts operations underway.??
Philippine Sea conducted bilateral training with foreign militaries throughout its deployment, focusing on ship boarding operations, shipboard damage control, and basic small-boat operation and repair.
Aside from training and community service projects, the ship also held an at-sea change of command where Capt. Herbert Hadley was relieved by Capt. Steve Shinego. ?During the ceremony, Hadley talked about how this ship and its deployment would more than likely be his last sea tour with the U.S. Navy.
“Honestly, I couldn’t think of any ship or crew I would have rather spent it with,” said Hadley. “I would like to thank each and every one of you for the unwavering support you have given me over and over during my time aboard.”
Philippine Sea Sailors also spent time during the port visits conducting community service projects, like a basketball game and a beach clean up with local residents from Batumi, Georgia. The crew also experienced local Bulgarian cuisine and exchanged culinary skills with students from a local culinary class.
“It’s always great when we can share knowledge with the host country, as there is always something for us to learn from them,” said Philippine Sea Command Master Chief Roy Hooper. ??Leadership from 6th Fleet headquarters in Naples, Italy, stressed the value of the actions and responsibilities of Philippine Sea during deployment.
“U.S. Navy guided missile cruisers are multimission platforms which are capable of performing myriad tasks, including maritime security operations, humanitarian missions, bilateral and multi-lateral training exercises, and NATO operations and deployments, including missile defense,” said Capt. Dan Shaffer, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 60. “Just as important, the crew of Philippine Sea engaged our friends and allies on the most important level of all – Sailor to Sailor.”??
Philippine Sea was on a scheduled deployment in the Black Sea to promote peace and stability in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via jacksonville.com. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com