NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — After breaking a record with 215 consecutive days at sea, the USS Stout (DDG 55) is back home at Naval Station Norfolk.
The guided-missile destroyer, which is homeported in Norfolk, previously broke a U.S. Navy record late September after spending 215 days, or more than seven months, operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
U.S. 5th Fleet is responsible for an area encompassing approximately 2.5 million square miles of water including the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The previous known record for days spent consecutively at sea had been held by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS San Jacinto (CG 56), also as a result of coronavirus operations.
The Stout’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Rich Eytel, says the time away flew by because of how busy the crew was.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” he said. “They did great. It really shows they’re resilient, self-sufficient. I don’t really have the words to say how proud I am of them.”
Eytel says they helped provide safe passage in international waters and worked with two different strike groups while deployed.
The ship, which worked with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, says before returning home they prepared to work on coronavirus safety protocols with the help of advice from the Eisenhower.
“For the past two weeks, we’ve been getting the muscle memory down with the masks. We’ve been doing a lot of training with the crew. Fortunately, the Ike strike group came in a little before us and gave us some good do’s and don’ts,” Eytel said.
The Stout also made two port stops in Rota, Spain.
Family members, which usually meet their service members on the pier, waited in the parking lot.
Chesapeake resident Mary Kate Adduce, who waited with her three children for her husband Tim, says they were all excited to see him for the first time since January.
“Deployments are always a challenge. 2020 has been a different challenge but I’m really just excited now. That’s all that matters now,” she said.
Adduce says her children already have planned activities to do with their father, such as Philomena going to get her nails done and her ears pierced. Her son, Damien, was excited to finally be able to play video games with his father. Both children also said they were looking forward to snuggling with him.
USS Stout is part of Destroyer Squadron Two Six under the Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) Carrier Strike Group. The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKECSG) returned to Norfolk in August following a seven-month deployment, but Stout remained in theater.