Naval Station Pascagoula Sailors Prepare for Deployment - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/13/04

Naval Station Pascagoula Sailors Prepare for Deployment

"We're doing our last check out of everything today to make sure that we're completely ready to go," Commander Steven Sloan said, as he was talking about the U.S.S. Yorktown deploying soon.

This will mark the first time sailors will board a ship from Naval Station Pascagoula to go directly to the Middle East as part of a strike group. Commander Steven Sloan knows this will be a very different mission for his crew.

"Most of the ships in Pascagoula have traditionally headed south and tried to capture drug runners and participate in exercises with the South American Navies," Sloan said.

Sonar Technician Greggory Thomas's job on the U.S.S. Yorktown will be to listen to sonar to hunt for hostile and friendly submarines.

"Being part of a strike group is something different for us, but we've trained, and I'm pretty sure we'll perform to our best ability like we always do," Thomas said.

But this sailor and others say they're sure they'll be prepared for this new challenge, especially if they site an enemy.

"If they're showing hostile intent, then the rules of engagement apply, and then we go for the kill," Thomas said.

"That could be attacking boats if Al Queda wanted to come out and try to blow up one of the ships, or it could be a hostile Navy operating against us on the high seas," Sloan said. "Whatever they try to bring at us, Yorktown is ready to defend them."

The motto for this deployment is the last victory lap. And the sailors of the U.S.S. Yorktown plan to have that victory in hand when they return in August.

by Claire Nelson

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