Executive Officer Joseph Gunta reaches out to hug his daughter Charlotte, 2, after arriving on the USS John S. McCain in Everett on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Executive Officer Joseph Gunta reaches out to hug his daughter Charlotte, 2, after arriving on the USS John S. McCain in Everett on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

After 24 years abroad, USS John S. McCain calls Everett home

The ship brings with it over 300 sailors and their families to the area from Yokosuka, Japan.

EVERETT — Out of a low-lying fog Friday morning comes a ship. A flag waves in the wind.

As it gets closer, the words emblazoned on the navy background become clearer: Big Bad John. The USS John S. McCain has a new home at Naval Station Everett.

It brings with it over 300 sailors and their families to the area from Yokosuka, Japan, Cmdr. Tin Tran said.

“The emphasis is getting our sailors back meeting their families, reintegrating,” Tran said. “We have sailors that have never been here to the Everett location, just as myself. And we want to be able to know the community and get involved in the community.”

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer left Japan on Sept. 17. In the meantime, it had a port visit in Hawaii and participated in San Francisco Fleet Week.

Augustus Jaskiewicz reunited with his wife Friday alongside his mother-in-law, who came from Alaska, and 1½-year-old daughter, Nynaeve. It has been a stressful few weeks as he moved to Marysville and waited for his wife, a member of the McCain’s crew. They’ve been communicating via email about projects on their fixer-upper home there.

But “the joy of reuniting overcame all the stress,” Jaskiewicz said.

He thinks Marysville will be a good place to raise a family.

Commissioned in 1994, the ship’s motto is “Fortune Favors the Brave.” It is named after three John S. McCains. The former U.S. senator and presidential candidate was added as a namesake just before his 2018 death. His father and grandfather, both of whom served in the Navy, were the original namesakes.

The destroyer was at the center of a controversy in 2019 after a report that the Trump administration wanted the ship moved “out of sight” on the then-president’s visit to Japan. The former president frequently targeted its youngest namesake, often focusing on his service during the Vietnam War.

The ship had been deployed overseas for 24 years before arriving in Everett. In the Seventh Fleet, its missions included securing the Indo-Pacific region. In 2009, it pursued a North Korean cargo ship. In 2011, it assisted with relief efforts after the earthquake in Japan.

It is now based in the Third Fleet, joining a squadron known as the “Little Beavers.”

The McCain docked next to the USS Kidd on Friday, which returned to its Everett home port in September after a four-month deployment. The base also welcomed the USS John Paul Jones in August, bringing another crew of over 330 sailors to the area.

In a 2019 report, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, advocated for Naval Station Everett as the best location for future home-porting due to its modern shipyard and natural deepwater port.

“For its modern facilities, welcoming community and high quality of life, (Naval Station Everett) has rightly earned a reputation as the ‘Sailor’s Choice,’” wrote Larsen, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

In June, the Navy announced Everett as the future home port for the first ships of a new generation of guided missile frigates.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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