USS James E. Williams deploys from Naval Station Norfolk

Credit: WAVY/Marielena Balouris

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Sailors aboard the USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) were deployed from Naval Station Norfolk on Tuesday.

The U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is leaving for a scheduled deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet area of operations.

The ship has undergone several maintenance periods and participated in various exercises since 2015. The USS James E. Williams had deployed for a 8-month period back in 2014. 

The rain didn’t stop friends and family from being at Naval Station Norfolk to say goodbye.

“I am trying to be as positive as I can be. I’m feeling a little nervous, going to miss him of course, but super proud of him,” said Jessica DeLuca, whose husband is going on his first deployment.

The Virginia Beach couple was joined by family members who are also unsure of what the next seven months will bring.

DeLuca’s brother-in-law, Jacob, said, “It’s definitely scary for sure, I think for anybody. You don’t really know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.”

The uncertainty is something many of the 320 service members understand, but excitement is also mixed in.

“It’s nervous, shocking; it’s overwhelming. A lot of moving pieces,” said 2nd Class Logistic Specialist Gabriel Gardner. “Trying to make sure everybody is on the boat, everybody is accounted for. Wondering what you’re going to be doing and where you’re going because anything could change at the drop of a hat.”

It’s Gardner’s second deployment on the USS James E. Williams and he says the crew will become a family.

“We all have to work together to make the mission come true,” said Gardner.

It’s a feeling echoed by Commanding Officer Allen Siegrist.

“James E Williams, it’s not about the steel, it’s about the sailors,” said Commander Siegrist. “These ships are multi-mission and we train to do anything that the combatant commanders or the president asks us to do. So we can be anywhere, anytime and that’s what makes these ships so special.”

The ship is expected to return by Christmas.