The destroyer USS Mahan returned to Norfolk today following an eight and a half month deployment, and promptly held a ceremony honoring ten sailors being promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
The Sailors and their hometowns are:
ETC(SEL) Chad Berry - Altoona, Pa.
FCC(SEL) Christopher Chalmers - Anchorage, Alaska
LSC(SEL) Edlyne Diaz - Pompano Beach, Fla.
YNC(SEL) Shaquan Gravesford - Bronx, N.Y.
DCC(SEL) Glenn Havert - Round Lake Beach, Ill.
EMC(SEL) Gregory Holcombe - Royersford, Pa.
GSMC(SEL) Daniel Hunt - Prescott, Ariz.
DCC(SEL) Jamie Klettke - Watertown, Wisc.
OSC(SEL) Demetrice Saunders - Cleveland, Ohio
MAC(SEL) Michael Shrum - Gallatin, Tenn.
Promotion to Chief is the pinnacle of an enlisted person’s Navy career.
The Mahan was one of five destroyers sent to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to conduct combat operations in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
When she moors in Norfolk the Mahan will have traveled more than 42,391 nautical miles under the leadership of Cmdr. Adam Aycock then Cmdr. Zoah Scheneman, who in May became the ship’s commanding officer. The crew conducted 26 underway replenishments, 50 weapons exercises, 53 small boat operations, and 15 flight operations with 147 landings and recoveries of helicopters.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the crew – they set the standard for excellence and established a great reputation for themselves out here,” said Scheneman. “The successes we achieved are many, and the crew overcame every challenge they met with poise and precision.”
Mahan deployed Dec. 28, 2012 in support of theater security cooperation efforts and maritime security operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
“The majority of the world’s commerce moves by way of the sea,” said Cmdr. Joe Matison, Mahan executive officer. “We were out there ensuring safety and freedom of navigation, which is in the interest of all nations, by conducting theater security operations and working with our maritime partners.”
While in 6th Fleet, the crew participated in a bilateral exercise with the Israeli Defense Forces. In addition to practicing core skills, the event also served as an opportunity to grow and foster partnership and cooperation between the two navies.
In addition, Mahan participated in joint naval exercises and operations with France, Great Britain, Greece, Spain, and other NATO partners, highlighting the importance of working with coalitions to preserve the sea lines of communication.
After his first Mediterranean deployment, Chief Gas Turbine Systems Mechanical Daniel Hunt said he feels he has returned a better Sailor.
“I got to see so many interesting places and see so many cultures, while serving our nation on the high seas,” said Hunt. “It has been a fantastic and productive deployment.”
Hunt was one of 10 first class petty officers selected for chief petty officer (CPO). The selectees will be "pinned" with the anchor rank insignia signifying their promotion in a ceremony on the pier soon after the ship moors.
While in theater, the ship made port visits to Augusta Bay and Naples, Italy; Israel; Cyprus; Rhodes and Souda Bay, Greece and Spain where the crew enjoyed liberty, conducted maintenance on the ship, and participated in numerous community relations projects.
“The crew returns from deployment with their heads held high,” said Wilson. “We accomplished our goal of a safe, sound and successful deployment.”
Last month, the ship made headlines around the world when she headed east to be ready to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations after being directed by the Secretary of Defense in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria the day before.
Sailors anxiously endured the hours as homecoming drew near. The homecoming is especially exciting for Sonar Technician Surface 3rd Class (SW) Mark Brown, who is used to seeing ships returning from growing up in the Norfolk area.
“I can’t wait to see my family and to show them the great ship I’ve called home these last eight months,” he said. Brown met the ship in Naples after completing boot camp and follow-on schools, and will return to his hometown a Surface Warfare-qualified United States Navy Sailor.
Mahan is the 4th ship named after Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, a naval theorist on seapower whose book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1763 shaped naval strategy to this day.
The ship, whose motto is “Built to Fight” was commissioned in 1998 as the 21st Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer, and the first Flight II-variant of the class. She carries a complement of 236 Sailors and 29 Officers.
Reflecting on his 26 years of Naval service, Scheneman said that this deployment, his 6th, was by far his favorite. “It truly is an honor to lead these incredible men and women,” he said.