The guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74) returned to its homeport here Sept. 20, following an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).
Assigned to Commander, Carrier Strike Group TEN and Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO SIX, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer independently departed from Norfolk Jan. 25. While deployed, McFaul integrated and operated with multiple different teams including the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (CSG), the French Navy Charles De Gaulle CSG, Kearsarge and Boxer amphibious ready groups. They also completed several multinational exercises with regional partners including United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and France.
“Our team operated where it matters, when it matters, in the Mediterranean, Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Aden,” said Cmdr. Rusty Williamson, McFaul commanding officer.
“Along the way we were very fortunate to visit eight countries: Spain, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, Greece, and United Arab Emirates. The crew really enjoyed experiencing these nations’ culture, seeing the sights, and of course, the fun, relaxation, and comradery ashore that comes with making a port visit.”
The crew conducted a multitude of missions, from air warfare, surface warfare, subsurface warfare, and more. They supported various commanders with chokepoint escorts, as well as maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf with their visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team. McFaul was able to flex nearly every mission set the crew trained for during their 2018 workups.
“The hard work put in over the last year and a half really paid off once on deployment,” said Cmdr. Bobby Rowden, executive officer. “Our systems, programs and our Sailors performed remarkably. This crew is tough, resilient and has fun. I could not be more proud to be a part of this team.”
The ships self-sufficiency, created by the crew of more than 330 Sailors, ensured the ship’s success during the nearly 240 days away from home.
“Over the course of the deployment, McFaul conducted 18 replenishments at sea with six different supply ships onloading almost 300 pallets of critical parts, food, supplies, and equipment,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Bill Kelly. “McFaul also received over 12,500 pounds of mail, staying connected with families and maintaining quality of life and morale of the crew.”
“The most obvious and glaring example of the support we had from home would be the mail that we received for the crew during inport periods and during a replenishment at sea, “ added Command Master Chief Jason Kutsch. “Almost every Sailor onboard has received a package from a friend or loved one while we’ve been out to sea and that means a lot to the crew to have that support. We worked hard to stay connected, communicate, and remain a family while deployed.”
While forward deployed, McFaul supported routine naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.
“After about 240 days, the crew is definitely ready to be home, back with family and friends,” said Williamson. “This is an amazing day the crew and families have waited for and deserve. Walking off the brow of a warship to this type of homecoming is something that stays with you forever.
“As their Captain, I could not be more proud to bring this amazing team home to this hero’s welcome.”
Commissioned in 1998, McFaul is the 24th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and was named after Chief Petty Officer Donald L. McFaul. McFaul was a local SEAL Team 4 hero who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the Nation’s second-highest combat valor award, for his heroic actions in saving his teammates during combat operations in December 1989 as part of Operation Just Cause in Panama.