The was a swirl of hugs and kisses as sailors left the ship.
The USS Farragut steamed home Sunday to cheers from a joyous crowd after a nine-month deployment that included intercepting an arms shipment.
Navy voyages typically last six months, so the extra time at sea ratcheted the anticipation even higher among family and friends waiting at the Mayport pier for the 275 sailors.
Mayor Alvin Brown was among those on hand to salute their return.
‚ÄúMay God continue to smile upon you,‚Äù he told them. ‚ÄúWelcome home, USS Farragut.‚Äù
Then it was time to play catch-up in the swirl of tight hugs and passionate kisses as sailors streamed off the ship.
Brown told the crowd that one of the Farragut‚Äôs missions involved successfully intercepting a shipment of ‚Äúillegal arms‚Äù off the coast of Yemen.
The Navy did not have additional details about that mission.
The Navy said the destroyer helped prevent piracy against vessels in the Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.
After departing Mayport on June 20, the destroyer‚Äôs 81,000 nautical miles of travel also took it across the Arctic Circle to visit a Russian port. A ‚ÄúBlue Nose‚Äù ceremony aboard the ship celebrated the crossing of that chilly point on the globe.
Sailors can keep in touch with families by Skype, but that was no substitute for actually being together in person.
Petty Officer Justin Gullatt‚Äôs family greeted him with a sign saying, ‚ÄúA daughter may outgrow your lap, but she never outgrows your love.‚Äù The daughter is 19-month-old Rileigh.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs huge,‚Äù Gullatt said with a laugh as he held her again.
But still small enough to sit on his lap when they got back home.