After spending 238 days deployed, the guided-missile destroyer McFaul returned to Naval Station Norfolk today, tying up at Berth 1, Pier Four after operating in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility .
This was an extended, eight-month independent steaming cruise for McFaul which started on Jan. 25. The ship is normally a part of Destroyer Squadron 26 and the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.
“After about 240 days, the crew is definitely ready to be home, back with family and friends,” said Cmdr. Rusty Williamson, McFaul commanding officer.. “This is an amazing day the crew and families have waited for and deserve – walking off the brow of a warship to this type of homecoming is something that stays with you forever.”
Williamson took command during the cruise during a relieving Cmdr. Janet. H. Days on March 1st during a port visit to Bahrain. Days had been in command since Nov. 9, 2017.
While deployed, McFaul stayed busy, spending time as part of the John C. Stennis and the French Navy Charles De Gaulle strike group, as well as the amphibious assault ships Kearsarge and Boxer amphibious ready groups. While apart of those groups, the ship also spent time exercising with the regional partners such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, aw well France.
“Our team operated where it matters, when it matters, in the Mediterranean, Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Aden,” Williamson said.
The McFaul was in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in both May and June and had a front-row seat to each month’s dust ups with Iran. In May, McFaul escorted the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge through the Straits of Hormuz and out of the Gulf on May 7.
On May 12, four commercial vessels were damaged by explosion in the Gulf of Oman, just outside the Persian Gulf . Fears were that Iran would harass U.S. warships trying to pass into the Persian Gulf, but on May 16, the McFaul and her sister ship, the Norfolk-based Gonzalez passed through the straits of Hormuz without incident.
More sparing with Iran happened in June and McFaul remained in the region until July.
“The hard work put in over the last year and a half really paid off once on deployment,” said Cmdr. Bobby Rowden, executive officer. “Our systems, programs and our sailors performed remarkably. This crew is tough, resilient and has fun.”
As an independent deployer, the ship had to be self sufficient much of the time.
That resulted in the ship conducting “18 replenishments at sea with six different supply ships onloading almost 300 pallets of critical parts, food, supplies, and equipment,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Bill Kelly. “McFaul also received over 12,500 pounds of mail, staying connected with families and maintaining quality of life and morale of the crew.”
Port visits were made in Spain, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, Greece, and United Arab Emirates.
The ship’s 238-day cruise exceeded the Navy’s 220-day threshold for Hardship Duty Pay – Tempo. But it is unclear as of the time of this report sailors who made the complete deployment would qualify for a few extra dollars for their additional time gone.
Commissioned in 1998, McFaul is the 24th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and was named after Chief Petty Officer Donald L. McFaul. McFaul was was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the Nation’s second-highest combat valor award, for his heroic actions in saving his Seal Team 4 teammates during combat operations in December 1989 as part of Operation Just Cause in Panama.