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Guided-missile destroyer O'Kane returns to San Diego

O'Kane deployed in June 2021, serving as the ballistic missile defense commander for Carrier Strike Group 1.

SAN DIEGO — The guided-missile destroyer O'Kane returned home Sunday to Naval Base San Diego, completing an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.

O'Kane deployed in June 2021, serving as the ballistic missile defense commander for Carrier Strike Group 1.

"The sailors aboard USS O'Kane lead the way in demonstrating resiliency and dedication to support the mission and each other," said Cmdr. Michelle Fontenot, O'Kane's commanding officer. "As an independent deployer serving in both the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleets, O'Kane met each mission with success."

Families and friends were thrilled to greet their loved ones arriving home on Sunday.

“How much have I missed him?  More than you can imagine,” said Mark Goldberg, who traveled from New York to greet his 26-year old son Alex as he stepped off the ship. “I can’t tell you. There’s no words.” 

Scott Leon, who traveled from Illinois, was grateful to be able to hug his son Carson after the long deployment. 

“Oh, you have no idea,” said Leon. “This is amazing. I’m just…  emotional right now. Been too long.”   

Alec McCallister embraced his wife with the ceremonial first kiss. 

“Feels great, you know, it was a really long deployment but I think it was really fulfilling, and it’s just awesome being back,” said McCallister. 

O'Kane escorted multiple units through 30 straits, including the Strait of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal, Navy officials said. O'Kane participated in maritime security operations in support of the International Maritime Security Coalition, collaborating with seven partner nations for security and the free flow of commerce.

O'Kane also participated in Indigo Defender, a bilateral maritime exercise between Royal Saudi Naval Forces and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

The ship conducted maritime interdiction operations; board, search, and seizure operations; and operated alongside international navies, including the Egyptian Naval Force, Royal Saudi Navy, and the Indian Navy.

As the on-scene commander, O'Kane escorted two mine countermeasures ships through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, marking the first time in seven years a mine countermeasures ship operating from Bahrain transited to the Red Sea and back.

O'Kane also participated in a seizure of illicit cargo from a stateless fishing vessel in the North Arabian Sea on Dec. 20. The O'Kane crew seized 1,400 AK-47s and 226,000 rounds of ammunition, the Navy said.

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