Families had to say goodbye to sailors aboard USS Vandegrift Friday as it set off from Naval Base San Diego for a seven-month deployment.
The U.S. Navy’s guided-missile frigate is on its way to join Operation Martillo, a U.S.-European effort to target illegal trafficking routes along the coast of Central and South America.
During the sendoff Friday morning, families stood on the pier to wave goodbye to their loved ones. Many spouses said it is a difficult farewell, especially when they have to be there for their children.
“My oldest son has experienced more deployment than the little ones, so he’s feeling it really, really bad right now,” said Melissa Flores, whose husband is aboard USS Vandegrift. “He knows dad’s going to be leaving, and it’s difficult, and as mom – to try to be there for your kids and be strong for them – it’s difficult.”
Along with the Vandegrift crew, the international drug interdiction team includes the ship’s Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team with air support from the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light Squadron 49 Detachment 3, according to the Navy.
On this phase of the operation, the crew will be working in the Eastern Pacific Ocean under the 11th Coast Guard District’s tactical control.
Prior to deployment, one of the Vandegrift's most recent missions was rescuing a stranded sailing family with a sick baby on board. The Navy ship sailed from San Diego to about 900 nautical miles off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and back to save the family.