Ships involved in search for missing jetliner return

The two Navy ships that took part in the search for the missing Malaysia jumbo jet are back in San Diego.  You can bet the crews never expected to be involved in such a world-wide event when they left home seven months ago.

The first to arrive at Naval Base San Diego was the guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney, much to the joy of all the families and friends waiting for its arrival.

Seven months ago the Pinckney and the guided missile destroyer USS Kidd left San Diego on independent seven-month deployments.Each was training in the South China Sea when Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 captured the attention of the world when the jumbo jet went missing.The Pinckney and the Kidd were ordered to the Indian Ocean.

So, amid the reunions – including the first kiss ceremonies and the always emotional event when a dad sees a child who was born while he was at sea -there was the justifiable pride everyone felt in being part of the search mission, even though the plane has yet to be found.

“It was exciting to be part of that. It was unexpected, but it was nice,” said DC3 Javier Zavala. “I’m glad to be back.  It took us quite a while to get there. It was nice to see this thing go full bore and to experience that.”

Zavala was also glad to be reunited with his two daughters, and his wife Daisy who’s pregnant with the couple’s third child.

“It was overwhelming,” said Daisy. “It was great. I was very proud of him.”

The ship’s commander is from the east coast, and this was his first WestPac (deployment)… and boy was it eventful.

The search, which included the two helicopters aboard each ship, was grueling.

“Those were very long days,” said Pinckney’s Commander Frank Okata. “It was a testament to the pilots and the flight deck crews and the controllers, who spent upwards of 50 hours controlling them, and searching the wide expanses of he gulf of Thailand.”

Categories: KUSI