U.S.S. Gates Deploys For The Last Time

It's out for its last voyage at sea. Thursday, the U.S.S. Gates left Naval Station Pascagoula heading south for a five month tour of South America. The cruiser will be decommissioned sometime when it returns.

Family and friends stood at the dock Thursday afternoon watching their loved ones get ready to sail away. Some wave and blow kisses.

"Heartbroken," Tanya Riviera says.

Others just cry.

"This is first time I've had to say goodbye," Heather Gill says.

"He's right there waving," Sonja Waldrop says. "I wish I could go or he could stay."

By 2pm, the U.S.S Gates begins to move.

"They're going to Panama first," Riviera says.

Fears replace the tears.

"Just hope that the ship is seaworthy. I hope the ship says afloat," Debra McCaskill says.

"I'm not really worried about him because I know they're really safe where they go. Just being without him," Riviera adds.

Gulbin Grimord is saying goodbye to her new husband and only friend.

"I don't have family here in this town, so I'll be by myself," Grimord says.

Jennifer Smith knows that feeling too well. She and 26 other families are part of a Navy family support group.

"Shoulders to cry on, friends to be there for births. Everything," Smith says, describing the group's goal.

As the spouses, children, and friends wave goodbye, they're hoping for one thing: U.S.S. Gates' safe and quick return.

"I always tell him to ask the Lord to go along with him and take care of him," McCaskill says.

"I try to say to him just be safe and I'll be with you at every moment," Grimord says.

"I'm proud of you and I love you. I anticipate when you come home," Waldrop says.

"I love him very much. I'm going to miss you," Gill says.