NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — Most homecomings have families eagerly awaiting pier side, cheering their loved ones on as they return from deployment.
But COVID-19 changed things up a bit for the sailors and Marines returning home on the USS Bataan. The pier was, for the most part, empty as families sat in their cars and honked their horns from the parking lot while the amphibious assault ship pulled into Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday.
“Seven months at sea which is fairly standard, but what made this deployment different was there were 150 consecutive days at sea due to COVID considerations,” said Capt. Jason Rimmer, the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group commander.
While at sea, the USS Bataan increased interoperability with regional allies and partners by conducting maneuvering operations and at-sea exercises.
Things were different at sea because of COVID-19.
“We did a lot of internal reviews, made sure our shipmates were being safe, and we worked through issues if they came along,” said Capt. Bryan Carmichael, the USS Bataan commander.
Sailors and Marines were also informed of the changes at home.
“They’ve had enough contact with their family members back at home that they stayed plugged into the realities of what has changed here,” said Rimmer.
Both say they were very proud of the sailors and Marines and say the morale on board was very high.
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