July 20 (UPI) -- The USS Donald Cook arrived this week at its new home port at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., ending a seven-year forward deployment in Europe.
"We operated everywhere from above the Arctic Circle north of Norway all the way down to the coast of Africa," Commanding Officer Matthew Curnen told WJAX-TV.
"The ship actually went into the Red Sea a few times and been in the Black Sea. Pretty much any body of water around Europe or Africa," Curnen said.
Sailors aboard expressed their joy to be back home.
"I haven't seen my family in two years and I know people haven't seen there's a longer but it's a great feeling," Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Ireland told WJAX-TV.
The USS Donald Cook was originally deployed in 2014 after Russia's invasion of Crimea. Russian-backed forces have occupied the territory since that time.
The ship was based in Europe with four others to provide missile defense for the continent. The Cook is one of three of that contingent including The USS Carney and USS Winston Churchill that have been relieved by other military vessels.
The USS Arleigh Burke was deployed in March to replace the Cook.
"With an Aegis weapon system, USS Arleigh Burke brings the U.S. Navy's top-of-the-line capabilities to the U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach and NATO's robust integrated air missile defense architecture," Navy officials said when the Burke was deployed.
"Arleigh Burke will support these missions, while patrolling the waters surrounding Europe and Africa, ensuring freedom of navigation in critical waterways," officials said.