USS Gridley returns to San Diego after 6-month deployment to Middle East

Vessel took part in training exercises

SAN DIEGO - The destroyer USS Gridley returned to its homeport of San Diego Tuesday following a six-month deployment to the Middle East.

The 509-foot-long Arleigh Burke class vessel took part in training exercises, including the first International Mine Countermeasures Exercise, with foreign navies. The ship and its crew of 320 passed through the 21-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz several times, where it comes close to Iran.

"Team Gridley performed exceptionally well for the past six months during our deployment," said Cmdr. Rick Kratzer, its commanding officer. "Team Gridley met and accomplished every assigned task with professionalism and served as great ambassadors during nine port visits, promoting peace and stability when interacting with the local population."

Senior Chief Petty Officer Stephanie Fasulo knows what being away at sea for months at a time means, as she has deployed a number of times. However, for the first time, the reverse was true as she waited for her husband on the USS Gridley.

"This was very different; I'm the one that is usually away," Fasulo said.

Alicia Miller held up a homemade sign with the days and minutes counted off.

"Counting the days was really rough for me because it just reminded me of how many days he was gone," she said.

The first off the ship was Chief Petty Officer Maurice Sullivan, who kissed his wife and held his two-month-old girl for the first time.

"There is nothing quite like this, it's awesome," he said.  

The ship is named after Capt. Charles Vernon Gridley, who served in the Civil War and Spanish-American War.

This was the fourth deployment for the ship, which first called San Diego its homeport in 2007.

In related news, the Navy announced it was reducing its fleet from 313 ships to 306 ships -- something Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, is opposing.

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