The guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) returned home to Naval Station Pearl Harbor on April 7 after a three-month deployment with Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG).
Cmdr. Brad Cooper
, commanding officer of Russell, said he is very proud of the command’s flexibility and motivation to support its tasking.
“We deployed in early February with the Ronald Reagan Strike Group as part of a surge deployment [of] forces moving to the Central Command region. The Reagan was the backbone of Western Pacific, engaging allies, participating in bi-lateral and multi-lateral exercises, and engaged in the U.S. Seventh Fleet maritime influence strategy,” Cooper said. “We deployed on 10 days’ notice which is a pretty short time frame since our return from our six-month deployment.”
Russell, which deployed Feb. 3, participated in several multinational exercises, and, along the way, had opportunities to experience foreign cultures during port visits. Community relations projects were a staple in every port visit.
In Shimizu (SHMUF)
, Japan, Russell’s first port, Sailors participated in four community relations projects. They continued offering helping hands during visits to Hong Kong and Chinhae, South Korea.
Russell participated in Exercise Foal Eagle 07, a multinational and multiservice annual exercise which provided opportunities for the ship to hone her skills in an international, simulated combat environment.
During the exercises, Russell Sailors were able to communicate with Japanese and South Korean navies, coordinate complicated combat missions, and train for multiple potential conflicts.
A milestone Russell achieved while deployed was to earn the Battle Efficiency “E” award. Cooper lauded his crew's efforts during this deployment, also noting that more than 50 Sailors received recognition while underway.
Successful completion of Foal Eagle marked the finish line for the Ronald Reagan Strike Group deployment, and after 1,648,992 gallons of fuel, 14 underway replenishments, 19,000 pounds of Navy chow and 24 enlisted surface warfare qualifications, the Russell pulled into the pier to greet families and friends.
Cooper expressed his thanks for the support and understanding of the ‘unsung heroes’ the crew left back at home.
“I would like to thank my wife and children, all the families of the crew and their children, particularly their children,” said Cooper. “You can never really make up for the amount of time that [the crew] are separated from their families."
"What we do is important and the crew will tell you the same,” he stressed.
For the crew, what they felt coming home to friends and loved ones was hard to put into words.
“It’s been three months, not nearly as exciting as a six-month deployment. There are no words about how good I feel - they haven’t invented them yet,” said Chief Fire Controlman (SW) Jason Lawrence about Russell’s homecoming. “I’m very excited. Just look at the family that I have to come home to.”
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ben A. Gonzales, Fleet Public Affairs Center Detachment Hawaii and Quartermaster 1st Class Charles Hughes, USS Russell Public