NORFOLK -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) returned to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, July 10, after completing an eight-month independent deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).
The ship departed in November 2014 to support maritime security and anti-piracy operations. Along with other American forces, Oscar Austin aided coalition efforts to protect allied shipping lanes and defend against the continued threat of piracy in the region. While deployed, the crew conducted nearly 1,000 hours of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight operations and traveled more than 32,000 nautical miles, while providing superior UAV capabilities to two combatant commanders and operations throughout the U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command AORs.
Cmdr. Russel Sanchez, commanding officer, USS Oscar Austin, praised the crew and their performance during the deployment.
"The crew has truly embodied the spirit of Pfc. Oscar Austin by staying committed to mission accomplishment," he said. "I am extremely proud of them and all they have done. They have worked hard, trained hard and completed every assigned task with honor."
The crew not only succeeded in its maritime security and anti-piracy operations, they also excelled in the area of individual career accomplishments. While deployed, nearly 100 Sailors earned their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification; nine officers earned their Surface Warfare Officer qualifications; nearly 100 Sailors were advanced to the next paygrade; and 21 Sailors reenlisted.
Oscar Austin Sailors gave back to communities they visited by participating in nine community relations projects in Seychelles, Mauritius and Portugal. A total of 164 Sailors invested their time working at orphanages, community homes and homeless shelters. Sailors assisted in painting and maintaining facilities, then joined the children and staff in multiple activities, including field games and reading.
The crew can look forward to enjoying quality time with their families and loved ones after spending 12 of the last 14 months underway or deployed.