A special homecoming greeted thousands of sailors aboard the USS. John C. Stennis as the aircraft carrier returned home to Naval Station Kitsap Friday afternoon.
Thousands of families greeted their loved ones in Bremerton as the carrier pulled into port around 1:15 p.m.
The ship, with its 3,000 sailors, completed an eight-month, 66,000-mile deployment to western Asia and the Pacific. The Navy says aircraft from its deck flew more than 1,300 missions in direct support of fighting in Afghanistan.
The Kitsap Sun reports the Stennis had made a quick turnaround and was in port for just five months last year after its previous seven-month deployment to the Middle East. So, some Stennis families have been apart for 15 of the past 20 months.
About 28 new babies were waiting to meet their dads for the first time. Lt. Michael Lemmons held his newborn son in his arms for the very first time.
"I tried to get her to hold on, but she said no, nine months is about the limit," Lemmons joked about missing the birth.
"I guess a lot of people are planning on coming home from deployment and taking a break. I fully intend on staying up all hours of the night with this one," Lemmons added, speaking about giving his wife Holly a break.
KING 5's Mitch Pittman contributed to this report.