NORFOLK, Va. -- After almost nine months at sea, the USS Winston S. Churchill is back home at Naval Station Norfolk.
”It’s seriously a major honor of mine to have led this team of over 300 to the Middle East, patrolled, conducted our mission overseas,” Commanding Officer Timothy Shanley told News 3.
Cars at the naval bases’ parking lot waited for their loved ones throughout the morning after the ship arrived Friday. Once the Sailors made their way out, families greeted and cheered for them.
The destroyer, named after late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, sailed across the world to take part in several operations. That included escorting ships across vital waterways and fighting piracy.
One successful victory Shanley spoke of was against the coronavirus pandemic.
”During our deployment, we did not have COVID on the ship,” he said. “You have to be very smart about it; you have to have buy-in from the team, and everyone knows that COVID is a real problem.”
The commanding officer said the crew followed COVID-19 protocols like wearing a face covering and social distancing.
The Sailors had the option of getting the COVID-19 vaccine upon arrival, but it was optional. The commander says most of the Sailors will get it.
”We’re currently executing vaccine shots on board the ship after returning to homeport,” Shanley explained. “We just, before we walked down, got our first shot."
Shanley was joined by Command Master Chief Brandy Gennette, who added she received the vaccine as well. Both said they felt fine.
There is no word as to when the USS Winston S. Churchill will deploy once again.
”They did a great job and kept their heads high,” Shanley said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way the team unified and won, made it back safely, and in my opinion, defeated COVID.”