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NORFOLK -- They were home for Christmas, but they'll be gone for the new year.

Family and friends stood pierside Friday morning as the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan left Naval Station Norfolk.

The ship will take part in Ballistic Missile Defense operations in the 6th fleet area - Europe and Africaafter recently getting its Ballistic Missile Defense upgrade.

The Navy didn't say how long the crew would be gone.

Keri Jackson, who is expecting a baby girl in April, waved goodbye to her husband. She had this advice for other Navy wives dealing with the separation: 'Keep busy, keep calm and carry on.'

US Mahan is deploying independently, meaning it won't meet up with other ships.

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