JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The USS Little Rock arrived at Naval Station Mayport homeport Thursday morning to cheers and welcome signs from dozens of families and friends waiting on the dock.
The sailors were gone for eight months. For some families, it was the first time they had gone through a deployment and spent time away from loved ones. Others who have been through the process several times, admit the separation is still just as difficult for them.
U.S. Navy Sailor Kenton Belfon was overjoyed to see his wife and three kids for the first time since last summer.
"(It's) Relaxing to know I am back and to be able to be with my family and get to see them and spend time with them.. (It was) a long time in coming, I missed them a lot, so it was just amazing," Belfon said.
The combat ship will be homeported Naval Station Mayport.
More than six months ago, it was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in Buffalo, New York, but it was trapped on the St. Lawrence River for three months due to icy conditions.
The crew of about 70 sailors continued to train while at port in Montreal.