MAYPORT, Fla. – The sailors on the USS Sioux City and their families enjoyed a happy reunion Friday morning when the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship returned home from deployment.
One of the happiest might have been sailor Matthew Ciereck, who was one of the first off the ship -- to meet his 2-month-old son Raelynn.
“Pictures really doesn’t do it justice at all, so I’m glad to be home to be able to spend time with the wife and baby and start our family’s next chapter of life,” Ciereck said.
Part of the crew’s mission included counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. The Navy said the crew disrupted more than 4,600 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $148 million.
Cmdr. Dan Reiher, the commanding officer of USS Sioux City, said this deployment gave new meaning to their motto “Forging a New Frontier.”
USS Sioux City traveled more than 14,000 nautical miles and visited six ports during a four-month deployment, according to the Navy. Sailors are home just in time to spend the holidays with their loved ones.
“There’s really no words to express the joy of coming home from deployment but particularly this time of year with COVID -- we’ve been away from family from a very long time and everyone’s looking for that first hug and first kiss,” Reiher said.
The ship, which is designed to complete close to shore missions, is equipped with surface warfare mission package personnel, a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment, and an aviation detachment to operate a Seahawk helicopter.
USS Sioux City is attached to U.S. 2nd Fleet and is one of four deployable littoral combat ships under Surface Division Two One.
LCS’s are highly maneuverable, lethal, and adaptable ships designed to support focused surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare. It allows the Navy to evaluate crew rotation and maintenance plans.
Shequila Hall said her wife reached an important goal when she made chief while on deployment.
“It’s something that they work hard to do and to achieve,” Hall said.
Reiher said the sailors offered humanitarian assistance and helped some mariners at sea, along with their other duties.
Late last month, Sioux City deployed its Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron to Honduras to deliver life-saving supplies after Category 4 Hurricane Iota slammed central America.
It also assisted a tanker in distress on Nov. 11 after one of the crew members on the tanker required medical assistance. Sioux City deployed a Sea Hawk to the vessel and transported the crew member to a hospital in the Dominican Republic for treatment.