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Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic

USS Vella Gulf Awarded Navy Unit Commendation

by Lt. j.g. Peter Grundy, USS Vella Gulf
02 September 2021 Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, presented the USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) crew a Navy Unit Commendation during a Sep. 1 visit to the ship at Naval Station Norfolk.

The guided-missile cruiser recently completed two “double-pump” deployments with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first deployment commenced Feb. 25, 2020, and ended Aug. 10, 2020. The second deployment commenced Feb. 26, 2021, and ended July 23, 2021. During each deployment, Vella Gulf performed exercises with U.S. allies and strike group members in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.

Capt. Michael Desmond, Vella Gulf commanding officer, thanked the Sailors for their relentless effort during the deployments, which earned their ship the commendation.

“Without each and every one of you this [award] would not have been possible,” he said.

During McLane’s visit, six Sailors were also individually recognized for their outstanding performance while on deployment: LS1 Earl Smith; FC2 Nicholas L. Crocker; IT2 Paige L. Reints; PS2 Ryan A. Scott; MM3 Bellamy J. Oughton, and SN Jack Daniel C. Constantino.

McLane highlighted the Sailors’ resiliency and ability to overcome any challenge put in their way.

"It’s so great to see Vella Gulf back in Norfolk,” said McLane. “Being able to execute back-to-back deployments in the middle of a global pandemic is certainly not easy, but it speaks to how tough you are as a crew."

Former Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal established the Navy Unit Commendation Dec. 19, 1944. The Secretary of the Navy may award the Navy Unit Commendation to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself by outstanding heroism in action against an enemy. It may also be awarded to a unit that distinguishes itself through extremely meritorious service not involving combat (but in support of military operations), which renders that unit outstanding when compared to other units performing similar service.

Commissioned Sep. 18, 1993, in Norfolk, Vella Gulf’s namesake is the Battle of Vella Gulf, a naval battle in the Pacific campaign of World War II. The ship is homeported in Norfolk and assigned to Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT).

SURFLANT mans, trains and equips assigned surface forces and shore activities, ensuring a capable force for conducting prompt and sustained operations in support of United States national interests. The SURFLANT force is composed of nearly 80 ships and more than 30 shore commands.

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