NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- More than 300 sailors returned home in time for Thanksgiving after spending seven months on board the USS Oscar Austin.

The ship's return on Friday marks the completion of a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation where they conducted maritime security operations.

"During this diverse deployment we were faced with a variety of missions located all over
the world," said Commander Samantha Dutily, Oscar Austin's commanding officer.

The ship visited 13 ports including Rota, Spain, Souda Bay Greece and Constanta, Romania.

Family, friends and loved ones gathered at pierside to welcome their sailors back.

This was the guided-missile destroyer's first deployment in almost 3 years.

"It's so excellent," said Coretta Campbell , mother of one of the Oscar Austin sailors. "It's a refreshing feeling, especially knowing what's out there and what some of the different challenges they have some up against."

The ship and crew left way back on April 17th for an independent deployment, not as part of some strike group, but, on their own. Crews operated in the Black Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Baltic Sea.

During the 214 day journey, the Oscar Austin conducted joint operations with more than 20 nations.