NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Submarine crews returned to their homeport at Naval Station Norfolk just in time to join their families on Thanksgiving Day.

U.S. Navy men and women on the USS John Warner, a Virginia-class attack submarine, were welcomed by familiar faces on Wednesday. They’d been gone on a six-month deployment to ports in Spain and Scotland.

You can watch their full homecoming here.

While deployed, Cmdr. William Wiley said crews worked to execute the chief of naval operations’ maritime strategy by supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.

“The U.S. Navy and Submarine Force will always remain ready to answer the nation’s call regardless of what is occurring around the world or at home,” Wiley said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m sure our competitors watched to see if the challenges affected our local and deployed operations. Conducting the deployment under these circumstances shows that sailors will find a way to operate our great warships forward-deployed, around the world, wherever our nation’s leadership needs us.”

Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Flor Rodriguez, a crew member aboard the submarine, said he’s proud of the work they accomplished. His wife, Alyssa Rodriguez, said she’s just happy to have her husband home.

“The last six months have been filled with completely uncharted waters in the world, and in our family,” she said. “Having Flor home for the holidays, to be a part of the memories and photographs we will look back on, means 2020 will end on a high note for our family.”

Rodriguez said he’s proud of his wife for being a pillar in their family during the coronavirus pandemic and happy to see their two sons in time for Thanksgiving.

During the deployment, John Warner traveled about 36,000 nautical miles conducting port visits. Crews kept spirits up with game tournaments, weekly movie nights and triathlons aboard the boat.

21 enlisted sailors and eight officers earned their submarine warfare qualification, known as “dolphins.”

In addition, many crew members were promoted, advanced to the next pay grade or reenlisted.

Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms that work as anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare.

They often work with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.

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