NORFOLK -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan departed Naval Station Norfolk Monday on a five-month deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, officials said Friday.

After transiting the Mediterranean Sea, Mahan will enter the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters to conduct maritime operations and strengthen partner nations' maritime capabilities.

That area of the world is being watched closely because of ongoing U.S. military strikes into Iraq by fighter aircraft from Norfolk-based USS George H.W. Bush. Several vehicles that were hit Sunday were part of an Islamic State group convoy moving to attack Kurdish forces defending the northeastern Iraqi city of Irbil, the Pentagon said.

'We watch the news and our training leaves us in great preparation for anything we encounter,' said Commander Zoah Scheneman.

The crew previously deployed on December 28, 2012 to take part in Ballistic Missile Defense operations after getting an upgrade to its missile systems.

The ship was one of four Norfolk-based destroyers positioned within striking distance of Syria as the Obama administration weighed possible missile strikes against that country for alleged used of chemical weapons.

The crew returned on Sept. 12, 2013.

In March 2014, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo died in a shooting aboard the USS Mahan at Naval Station Norfolk. Mayo was assigned to Naval Security Forces.

The Navy says Jeffrey Savage of Portsmouth was preparing to shoot another sailor and Mayo shielded her.

Mayo was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on April 25.

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