NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The USS Vella Gulf left for its six-month deployment Friday morning. The guided missile cruiser will head to the U.S. sixth fleet area of responsibility, the Mediterranean Sea, where the crew will take part in maritime security operations.
Commanding officer of the USS Vella Gulf, Captain Robert Katz, said his sailors have been working long days in preparation for the deployment.
“I have 361 sailors on board that are just fired up and ready to go on this deployment,” said Katz. “I’m very proud of them. They’ve worked very hard.”
The Vella Gulf will take part in a NATO exercise called Joint Warrior. The guided-missile cruiser, plus six other American ships, will head to the Northern Atlantic to participate in the exercise.
“It’s a great training opportunity as we operate with a lot of ships with the four navies up there in the Northern Atlantic,” said Katz.
Sailors and families alike are proud of the Vella Gulf crew. However, “goodbye” never gets any easier.
“This is my first time leaving my son since I had him,” said Tamara Gilbert, a Gunner’s Mate 1st Class on the Vella Gulf. “It’s bittersweet.”
Sarah Zanni also watched as her husband deployed on the Vella Gulf. The couple is expecting their first child around the time the cruiser will return.
“We’ve tried setting up the nursery early a little bit, going through our registry and everything,” said Zanni. “It’s hard… It’s hard to say ‘goodbye.’ But, it’s for a good reason. You always gotta keep that in the forefront of your mind.”