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Guided missile cruiser Normandy returns to Norfolk

Guided missile cruiser Normandy returns to Norfolk
By Victoria Bourne
The Virginian-Pilot
Dec 12, 2015
NORFOLK

The tears started well before the Normandy came into view.

“Where’s the ship? I can’t see it yet,” said Jacklyn Barnes as she and her family arrived at Norfolk Naval Station’s Pier 6 on a bright and beautiful Saturday morning.

Barnes had been eagerly anticipating the return of her daughter, Petty Officer 2nd Class Britney Barnes, a sonar technician on her first deployment aboard the guided missile cruiser.

Barnes said she’d hoped to catch a glimpse of the cruiser as she drove over the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel from their home in Chester, but no such luck. Too foggy, she said, and she was driving anyway.

Emails and text messages of “Hey, mom, I miss you,” helped relieve their separation, Jacklyn said, but nine months was too long to be apart.

“I just want a hug,” she said, wiping away tears.

Mom would have to wait, though. The sailor’s younger brother Bryce claimed first dibs, and he got a hug as soon as she stepped off the gangplank.

After more than nine months, 70,000 nautical miles and just about every major sea and ocean over the course of a trip around globe, the guided missile cruiser Normandy returned Saturday to Norfolk.

Capt. Scott Robertson, the ship’s commanding officer, said the cruiser took the long way home from a regularly scheduled deployment that set off from Norfolk on March 9 and included six months in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
The crew of 300 conducted maritime security operations, protecting high-value assets that included the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, he said.

The ship supported Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria, according to a Navy news release and deployment statistics, and traveled six major thoroughfares, including the Suez and Panama canals.

Robertson said it was a long and challenging deployment, but rewarding, too. Circumnavigating the globe was unique as well, he said.

On the way home, they picked up a few extra crew members – 80 friends and family participating in a Navy program that gives a brief, immersive life-at-sea experience.

Britney Barnes’ dad, Lamont Barnes, was one of the folks who hopped onboard the Normandy two days earlier when the ship stopped at Mayport Naval Station in Florida.

He learned his daughter doesn’t sleep a lot. Maybe seven hours in two days, he said, and intermittently – an hour here, an hour there.

She is part of so many teams on the ship, it keeps her busy, he said. Lamont worked right alongside her, doing small stuff – sweeping, mopping – but mostly trying to stay out of the way.

It gave him a greater appreciation for what his daughter – and the rest of the Normandy crew – endures as part of their commitment to serve.

“When I saw the things she’s responsible for at 22, I was just blown out of the water,” he said.

Victoria Bourne, 757-222-5563, [email protected]

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