NORFOLK (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), departed Naval Station Norfolk March 14 on a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding waters.

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"It is an honor to command USS Vella Gulf as we set sail to the 6th Fleet area of operations to enhance maritime security," said Capt. Robert D. Katz, the ship's commanding officer.

"I have 361 of our Nation's finest sons and daughters trained and ready to ensure freedom of the seas and serve as outstanding ambassadors of the United States."

Initially, Vella Gulf will participate in Exercise Joint Warrior, a multi-national NATO-led exercise which will allow the crew to gain additional training opportunities during the deployment.

"This is an awesome opportunity to serve our great country and see the world at the same time," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Petty Officer Zackery Schrock. "My shipmates and I have trained really hard and I know we will be successful in our mission."

Vella Gulf returned from her last deployment in August 2012. In 2013 the crew completed an assessment of materiel condition by the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), a congressionally mandated inspection of a ship's service life.

Assessments were done while in port and underway on maintenance and equipment. Every system was tested for operational readiness, which included demonstrations of the ship's major warfighting systems.

"I am very proud of these Sailors; we have been looking forward to this deployment for a long time," said Katz.

The ship was commissioned Sept. 18, 1993 and was named after a famous World War II battle - one of the last and most decisive in the Solomon Islands Campaign. This battle was to be the first time that destroyers were used as an independent striking force, free from responsibilities for screening battleships and cruisers and helped turned the tide in favor of the Allied Forces in the Pacific.

For more information about Vella Gulf, visit http://www.vella-gulf.navy.mil/.

For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.

News Source : NORFOLK (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), departed Naval Station Norfolk March 14 on a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding waters.

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