You knew the USS Nimitz was coming on Friday long before you could see it.
Waves of cheering and clapping marked the aircraft carrier's slow approach into Naval Air Station North Island. For families seeing the ship pull in, it was both exciting and excruciating.
Exciting because they were about to see their loved ones after a eight-month separation. But it was excruciating because every moment felt like an eternity until they could exchange kisses and hugs.
"I see him!" and "There's Daddy!" echoed through the crowd as husbands and fathers were spotted as they stood along Nimitz rail line.
Cell phones were buzzing as families started calling sailors to let them know where they stood in the crowd, with everyone counting down the moments until the ship's crew of nearly 5,000 were allowed to disembark.