JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The USS Tornado is back at home at Naval Station Mayport and families who have waited several months to see their loved ones have now been reunited.
It returned home after completing a drug trafficking operation in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
Action News Jax reporter Alicia Tarancon was there during the homecoming celebration. She reports that despite the COVID-19 changes, families say there’s still no better feeling than seeing your loved one get off the ship after a safe return.
Kayla Childs stood by with her daughter Aspen patiently waiting outside the fence to see her husband.
“We feel whole when he’s home. We feel like a piece of us is missing when he’s gone,” Childs said.
“I’m just really excited because I haven’t seen him in a long time,” Aspen Childs, Kayla’s daughter said.
Luca Fraser held up a sign excited to see his dad after three months of being apart.
“Daddy now that you’re home, here’s your to do list,” Fraser said.
These kids said they missed the play time, hugs, and of course, “goodnight kisses,” Aspen said.
The Navy told Tarancon there were 40 crew members onboard the ship.
During its deployment, the USS Tornado helped capture more than $50 million dollars' worth of cocaine from drug smugglers.
HOMECOMING PHOTOS: USS Tornado returns to Naval Station Mayport
Story continues below:
"We’re really proud of what we were able to do and to get it off,” Lieutenant Commander Graham Van Hook, with the USS Tornado said.
Last year the USS Tornado confiscated 2,400 pounds of drugs worth up to $32 million.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions put in place this year, families had to wait behind a fence, practice social distancing and wear a face mask during the homecoming celebration.
“This is way different than any normal homecoming, so it’s a little odd, but you know, as long as he’s coming home we’re happy,” said Navy wife, Sandra Fraser.
The Navy told Action News Jax the USS Tornado will be decommissioned next year after serving for 20 years.
That means it will no longer be active.
Although Naval Station Mayport told Tarancon that decommission date is still being determined, they will get as much use out of the ship as they can.
Cox Media Group