Sailors aboard USS Leyte Gulf returning to Norfolk

170922-N-HV059-056 PONTA DELGADA, Portugal (Sept. 22, 2017) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) arrives in Ponta Delgada, Portugal, for a scheduled port visit, Sept. 22, 2017. Leyte Gulf is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sonja Wickard/Released)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Hundreds of families welcomed home sailors of the USS Leyte Gulf Friday afternoon.

The missile guided cruiser was deployed for nearly seven months and had traveled to the Europe and Central theater. The ship’s commanding officer says 370 members serve on board and they provided maritime security operations with allies and partners.

“It’s always an honor and great privilege to serve this great nation,” said Captain Daniel Sunvold.

Sunvold says the ship was the first, since the 1980s, to conduct a replenishment refueling north of the Artic Circle. He says it presented challenges, being that far north, but deployment is also hard on families.

“It’s tough on everybody. The family’s keep everything going back here of course. It’s tough on us too but we’re out doing the mission for the united states and working with our allies and partners conducting maritime security operations,” he said.

Kids, who waited for their parents on the pier, also agreed deployment is hard.

“Sometimes you get sad. You miss them,” said 12-year-old Alexis Hogan.

Sunvold says he’s been through multiple deployments and homecomings and having children involved always makes it unique.

“It’s always different. It’s interesting to come back and see what they’ve developed into in the past few months,” he said.

170530-N-HV059-110 STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR (May 30, 2017) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) transitsthe Strait of Gibraltar, May 30, 2017. Leyte Gulf is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sonja Wickard/Released)