USS George H.W. Bush leaves for 3rd combat deployment

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Thousands of sailors left Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group’s deployment.

The leaders of the fleet shared a message of confidence; they are ready for deployment. The message came as family and friends stood on the nearby pier, waiting to wave goodbye to their loved ones.

“When he’s gone, it’s an empty space, trying to fill by myself,” says Ruth Rosdo, who’s boyfriend was leaving for his third deployment.

The sailors, nearly 6,000 of them, are set to be on board the ship for at least six months.

Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, Carrier Strike Group 2 Commander says, “The world has a vote and we’ll determine once we get out there and how the world reacts on how long our deployment is.”

The fleet is headed to the Navy’s 5th and 6th fleet area of operations, which include the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. The fleet includes aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, and destroyers USS Laboon and USS Truxton.

Capt. James McCall, Carrier Air Wing 8 Commander says, “Every time we deploy, it brings the challenge of the unknown. And we’ve prepared for every mission set that the Navy could encounter.”

Families came to Naval Station Norfolk from across the country.

Heather Howell, who traveled from Florida to see her son off says, “I think it’s great to see the crowd here. Even if you don’t have anyone in the military, to watch something like this, it really puts things in perspective for you.”

Some family members had ties with the Navy themselves.

Jim Everett, who served in the Navy and was there to see his son go on his first deployment says, “I have 2 sons, both in the NAVY, so really a proud moment for us when you have your son come up to you and say ‘dad I’ve relieved the watch’.”

Now, the families have to wait patiently until their loved ones come home.

“The anxiety of him leaving and the excitement of his return is all we hold on to,” says Rosdo.