The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (DDG 71)

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (DDG 71)

The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Cape St. George and her complement of two MH-50 “Sea Hawk” helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 Detachment 2 returned to San Diego Wednesday after wrapping up a nine-month voyage around the world.

“It’s been a lifelong dream to sail around the world,” said Captain Don Gabrielson, commanding officer of Cape St. George. “To accomplish this alongside Cape’s amazing Sailors was an honor and a privilege beyond words. It was a huge challenge, but it was just as rewarding as it was difficult.”

Cape St. George served a number of functions while deployed. She spent six months in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, monitoring several million square miles of water and escorting the USS Abraham Lincoln to her home port at Norfolk.

In all, the destroyer sailed 70,000 nautical miles, enough to circle the globe three and a half times at the equator. The ship completed 259 days deployed with 230 of them spent at sea and 105 days in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

For the aviation world’s interest, the sailors executed more than 3,000 safe helicopter launches and recoveries. The MH-60R helicopters flew about 350 sorties, completing more than 1,140 flight hours.

“It was a great experience to serve aboard Cape,” said Lieutenant Brock Magnino, one of the pilots assigned to HSM-77. “Capt. Gabrielson and the rest of the crew were very supportive, and it felt good to help them out as much as we could. We definitely felt like a part of the family.”

The crew made port visits to Pattaya, Thailand; Manama, Bahrain; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Valletta, Malta and Key West, Fla. Cape participated in community service projects in each port, repairing orphanages and homes for victims of domestic violence. En route, Cape passed through both the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, sailing around the world to return home to San Diego.

“It was a long, but memorable deployment,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Harvey Xavier. “Our ship has come a long way and made many accomplishments since 2008. It feels good to serve on a ship that’s been around the world. Not many people are able to say they’ve been where we’ve been or did what we’ve done.”