Port Royal deploysThe cruiser USS Port Royal pulled out of Pearl Harbor yesterday on its first combat deployment since it was commissioned seven years ago.
for battle in Arabian Sea
With its crew of 400, the cruiser
embarked on its first combat tour
By Gregg K. Kakesako
Its skipper, Capt. Louis Geanuleas, said he had expected to rendezvous last night with the USS John C. Stennis carrier battle group to join the battle against terrorists in the Arabian Sea where other Navy warships have launched Tomahawk missiles in the war against Afghanistan.
The job of the 567-foot cruiser with its complement of 400 sailors and officers over the next six months will be to escort and protect the Stennis which left its San Diego home port Nov. 12. Joining the Port Royal's crew are two SH-60B helicopters and 23 personnel from HSL-37 Detachment 1 from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.
"We're ready to go," said Geanuleas, as family and friends crowded Pearl Harbor's Bravo Pier.
The Pentagon ordered the Stennis and the nine ships in its battle group to set sail for the Persian Gulf region ahead of its scheduled deployment in January. The Stennis will replace the USS Carl Vinson carrier battle group, which is returning to Bremerton, Wash. Included in the Vinson battle group are the Pearl Harbor-based destroyer USS O'Kane and nuclear attack submarines USS Key West and USS Olympia.
Over the next six months there will be at least three new babies born to Port Royal families while the ship is at sea and many missed birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and other special occasions. The captain himself will be miss his 16th wedding anniversary.
For some of the crew like electronics warfare technician Jeannele Macey, this will be her first deployment.
"I hope it goes by fast," said Macey, a 1996 Moanalua High School graduate.
But Macey, who has been in the Navy just over two years, said she views the next six months philosophically. "Somebody's got to do it and we're the ready battleship."
Her father, Lt. Cmdr. Jim Macey, said he was "proud" of his daughter and wished that he was going with her.
For Petty Officer Reginald Terry, 36, this will be his eighth deployment.
"It's different," said the Gulf War veteran. "It's difficult with what happened on Sept. 11, but this is what we all came into the Navy for... I'm all for it."
His wife, Bridgett, said although she would rather have her husband at home, she realizes the military is his career. "I think everything is going to be all right. We're going to be fine."
Terry said he had wanted to set up the Christmas tree for his family Friday night before he left. "But my son told me he would take care of it."
The Navy hopes to bring the Stennis, which can launch 100 attack aircraft from its flight deck, and its escorts home in six months, the usual length of a cruise.
The Stennis deployment involves about 8,500 sailors and Marines, 80 tactical aircraft, two nuclear submarines, six warships and onae supply vessel. A Canadian frigate, the HMCS Vancouver, with a crew of 224, is also part of the Stennis' battle group.