By USS Simpson Public Affairs

The guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56), and embarked HSM-46 Detachment Eight, returned to her Naval Station Mayport, Fla. homeport March 20 after a six-month deployment to the 6th Fleet area of responsibility. 

See more photos of the USS Simpson homecoming

While deployed, the crew conducted more than 700 flight hours in support of regional and maritime security, more than 200 drills to increase overall preparedness and qualified more than 80 Sailors as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialists (ESWS).

"I'm the luckiest CO on the waterfront. I am proud of my Sailors' accomplishments and humbled to be their Captain. I can't say enough about the resilience of this crew," said Cmdr. Christopher Follin, Simpson's Commanding Officer.

"These Sailors ensured we deployed ready for any tasking in all of our warfare areas.  Their ability to maintain their equipment throughout the entire deployment provided the Operational Commander a reliable asset that was vital to our national security and diplomatic relations," Follin added.  

Since her September departure, Simpson traveled more than 35,000 miles and made 10 port visits to eight different countries, providing the crew opportunities to strengthen regional ties through exercises and opportunities to experience Mediterranean culture.  

 "Over the past six months I have been honored to watch this crew perform daily to successfully complete the mission," said Command Senior Chief Terry Parker. "Attaining new pay grades, ESWS qualifications and experiencing new countries and their cultures were just some of the items that highlighted this deployment."

During two of the ship's port visits, numerous Sailors volunteered to help others through community relations events. Sailors made renovations to a shelter for domestic violence victims in Malta and participated in learning, sports, and grounds keeping activities at a school for disadvantaged girls in Morocco. 

"Looking back on this deployment, knowing we were able to help a little bit is a great feeling," said Personal Specialist 1st Class Anthony Petry.  "Even though time restraints limited how much we could get done, just seeing all the smiles on the faces of the people we helped made everything worth it; it was definitely a moment I'll always remember."

Simpson closed its deployment with a "tiger cruise" from Charleston, S.C. to Mayport, during which crewmembers' family and friends were able to experience first-hand, life aboard a Navy ship.