The destroyer Mahan, shown here May 1, 2013, in Souda Bay, Greece, is leaving Virginia on a five-month deployment to the Middle East. (Navy)
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NORFOLK, VA. — The guided-missile destroyer Mahan (DDG 72) set sail Monday morning on a scheduled five-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf.
The ship has had rough seas in the past year. The Mahan completed a nine-month deployment less than one year ago. Roughly 60 percent of the current crew were on that float, and will miss the holidays due to this quick turnaround. The deployment also comes less than five months after Master at Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo was shot and killed while protecting Mahan’s petty officer of the watch from Jeffrey Tyrone Savage, a civilian who disarmed the female sailor during his attempt to board the ship. Savage was shot and killed in the exchange. The event is still under investigation.
The crew has emerged strong from these challenges and is ready to move forward, said Cmdr. Zoah Scheneman, the ship’s skipper.
“I absolutely slept well all weekend knowing we are ready to go,” he said.
While cognizant of current operations in and near Iraq, the crew has no specific missions as of yet, but is “ready for anything that is taking place internationally,” Scheneman said. “That’s the beauty of the destroyer. It is the workhorse of the fleet.”
The Navy has eight ships and more than 100 aircraft involved in operations against Islamic State militants and providing humanitarian relief to embattled Kurds. The effort is led by Carrier Strike Group Two and the carrier George H.W. Bush, which deployed from Norfolk in February.
Mayo was shot a little more than one month later, on March 24. He took four bullets defending a cryptologic technician second class who was serving as watch stander. She had confronted Savage, who was described as behaving erratically. Savage took her pistol in an ensuing struggle.
An officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak during the ongoing investigation, said Savage was poised to shoot the female sailor when Mayo engaged, effectively placing himself between the two. Mayo, who was assigned to the naval station security force, was shot once in the front, spun to cover the sailor and was shot three times in the back.
Another security force member, armed with a pistol, and the Mahan’s roving patrol, armed with an M4, arrived as these events unfolded and opened fire. Savage was shot three times.
Savage, a civilian truck driver, was not authorized to be on the base and had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in North Carolina in 2008 and spent time in prison a decade earlier for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.
Capt. Robert Clark, head of Naval Station Norfolk, called Mayo’s actions “nothing less than heroic,” just hours after the shooting.
“We owe our lives to his actions,” Scheneman said at an April 7 memorial service. Mayo will “live forever in Mahan, and in the hearts of the sailors who walk her decks.”
Mayo was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal at Arlington National Cemetery.