USS Vella Gulf leaves for deployment

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The USS Vella Gulf left Naval Station Norfolk for a deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleets area of operation this morning.

The USS Vella Gulf last deployed in March, 2014 after a 6-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, where the crew took part in maritime security operations and conducted 15 port visits.

The USS Vella Gulf, along with the USS Leyte Gulf, and the guided-missile destroyers USS James E. Williams and USS Oscar Austin completed a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of North Carolina exercise on Feb. 4.

On Sunday, about 350 sailors left Naval Station Norfolk for a seven-month deployment.  The ship’s commanding officer says they’ve been preparing for one year and are ready to do whatever is asked of them.

“I’m very proud of everybody, how we’ve come together as a crew,” said Captain Mark Oberly.  “The training cycle is very arduous and that’s on purpose, that’s to get us ready for deployment.  The crew did a great job coming together and getting through all their requirements.  That is meant to train us up and get us ready for any contingency that comes up and I’m proud of how we’ve come together and done that.”

It was an emotional day for both the sailors on board the USS Vella Gulf, as well as their family and friends who waited on the pier until the ship sailed out of sight.

“This is important work that they’re doing, so I think it’s wonderful to see everybody out here today in support of their sailor,” said Cynthia Yates, whose son is on his fourth deployment.

Denise Couto, whose daughter left for her first deployment, said, “You’re never prepared.  You love them and you want to keep them home.”

The USS Vella Gulf is expected to come home in November.