USS Leyte Gulf deploys from Naval Station Norfolk

USS Leyte Gulf. WAVY-TV 10 Photo.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Around 360 sailors aboard the USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) left Naval Station Norfolk for a six-month deployment.

The crew is heading to the Navy’s 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea, for a regularly scheduled deployment.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser recently took part in a live-fire missile exercise with two other ships off the coast of North Carolina.

The U.S. Navy says the exercise was designed to test the ships’ weapons systems on simulated enemy targets. Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 60 is also on board.

“Leyte Gulf sailors have been put to the test time and time again over the past year and a half preparing for deployment,” Capt. Daniel Sunvold, Leyte Gulf commanding officer, said in a statement. “The effort and skills demonstrated over the last year is a testament to the strength and abilities of the entire crew. They are excited to see parts of the world they never would have experienced before and to put their certifications to the test.”

Gallery: USS Leyte Gulf Deployment

Many of the sailors had been on the ship since midnight the night before Monday’s deployment. Some families opted to say their final goodbyes at that time. But dozens others lined the pier for hours, waiting to watch the ship head to sea.

“I feel really depressed right now, but I know he’s doing something good,” said Brittany Sorrentini, whose husband is on his first deployment in their four years together.

“It’s hard. It’s hard being a military family. It’s just hard but I support him 100 percent with everything he does,” said a Navy mom visiting from North Carolina to see her son off. He is starting his second deployment. “Just waiting on the days for him to come home. Even though its six months, it feels like an eternity.”