2 destroyers return to San Diego

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SAN DIEGO — The guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale and the USS William P. Lawrence returned to San Diego Friday from an extended 10-month deployment.

The ships and their combined crews of 600 sailors left San Diego Jan. 14 and spent the time away in the Middle East, Mediterranean and Black seas, and in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, according to Naval Surface Forces Public Affairs Office.

In addition to the ships and their crews, two detachments from Maritime Strike Squadron 75 that embarked aboard the Stockdale and Lawrence came home Thursday.

In September, two of five helicopter crew members died when their Coronado-based MH-60S Knighthawk crashed in the Red Sea while attempting to land on the deck of the Lawrence.

The ships were in the region as part of a buildup of U.S. military forces in the region that started after the regime in nearby Syria attacked a suburb of the capital of Damascus with chemical weapons on Aug. 21, killing 1,429 people.

“It went very well, we were extended, turned around and went back and did what we had to do,” Cmdr. Jana Vavasseur, the commanding officer of the USS William P. Lawrence, told 10News. “The crew responded very well. They were proud to serve and to answer that call.”

The Stockdale is named for Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, a naval aviator and longtime Coronado resident who was the vice presidential candidate on Ross Perot’s Independent Party ticket in 1992. The Lawrence is named for Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, a naval aviator who commanded the Third Fleet and rose to deputy chief of naval operations. Both Stockdale and Lawrence survived being prisoners of war during Vietnam.

Both men died in 2005.

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