Loved ones reunite as USS Tornado returns home

By Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter, Jennifer Ready - Reporter

MAYPORT, Fla. - Dozens of families were reunited Tuesday when the USS Tornado returned to Naval Station Mayport after a 78-day deployment.

For nearly two and a half months, these sailors have been working with the Coast Guard to stop smugglers in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean.

WATCH: USS Tornado returns to Naval Station Mayport

"I'm very happy and the kids, I just told them this morning because I don't want to get them all excited, but they were! They were screaming," Carolina Granthan said about the reunion of her kids and their father.

It was a heroes homecoming as loved ones greeted more than two dozen sailors with signs, kisses and plenty of long-lasting hugs.

Travis Gratham was the first one off the ship to reunite with his wife and three young kids. He was grateful to be home and was thankful to be able to hug his family.

While deployed, the crew and the US Coast Guard boarded six vessels and seized $32 million worth of contraband. The ship is nearly 180 feet long and about 20 years old. The crew members spent most of their time on the ship that's a little longer than half a football field. The sailors also helped a sinking vessel and rescued six people on board. 

During the deployment, crew members also volunteered in Curacao and helped refurbish a building that will house an after-school program for the children of displaced Venezuelans.

Their next mission is to enjoy the next few months at home with their loved ones.

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