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U.S. 2nd Fleet/Striking Fleet, Mount Whitney Visit Halifax

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040519-06

Release Date: 5/19/2004 11:44:00 AM

From Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet/NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic Public Affairs

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (NNS) -- The Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet/Striking Fleet Atlantic staff and the crew of USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) reinforced the spirit of cooperation with their Canadian neighbors during a port visit May 13-17.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to visit Halifax," said Vice Adm. Gary Roughead, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet/Striking Fleet Atlantic. "We have had a longstanding partnership with the Canadian Navy and continue to further advance our operating ability as a coalition."

The 2nd Fleet/Striking Fleet - Mount Whitney contingent was greeted by Rear Adm. Glenn Donaldson, Canada's commander, Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARFORLANT) and Halifax city officials. Receptions for local dignitaries were held aboard both Mount Whitney and HMCS Athabaskan, the Canadian host ship for the port visit.

During the port visit, 2nd Fleet/Striking Fleet Atlantic members and Mount Whitney crew members enjoyed sightseeing and shopping. Visitors had the opportunity to visit historic sites, including the scenic fishing village, Peggy's Cove, and the site of the Halifax explosion of 1917 that reportedly killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed nearly the entire north end of the city.

For Yeoman 2nd Class Candice Bruttomesso, the 2nd Fleet Communications departmental yeoman, the highlight of the tour was seeing Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Canada's most-photographed lighthouse, and the country's only lighthouse with its own post office and cancellation stamp.

"I made sure I sent postcards from the lighthouse (post office) to my kids," said Bruttomesso, whose tour of Peggy's Cove was sponsored by the Mount Whitney Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) committee. "It was beautiful there . and so scenic," she added.

It wasn't all shopping and sightseeing.

A few dozen Navy volunteers spent the better part of May 15 restoring part of the Halifax Public Gardens. The Gardens, which encircles one of the oldest formal Victorian gardens in North America, suffered severe damage from Hurricane Juan in September and is currently undergoing significant restoration.

"I didn't hear about it until the last minute, but when it was announced, I immediately put my name on the list so I could get out there and be a better ambassador than what we were already expected to be," said Mount Whitney's Electronics Technician 3rd Class (SW) Jason M. Girard.

Poor weather prevented the Sailors from painting the fence, but it didn't dampen their spirit of volunteerism. The day was spent busting rust with wire brushes and scrapers.

"It was my first time to do a community relations project with the ship," said Girard. "I wanted to get out and do something for this community to kind of pay them back for their hospitality toward our visit."

"We had a great opportunity to get involved in the community and give something back to our hosts," said U.S. 2nd Fleet/Striking Fleet Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kennedy, who arranged the opportunity. "The weather didn't want to cooperate, but I'm glad we were able to get out and make a lasting contribution to the people here in Halifax. They've been such great hosts."

After four days of visiting, shopping, and sharing with their Haligonian hosts, it was time for the 2nd Fleet/Striking Fleet Atlantic-Mount Whitney team to return to their homeport of Norfolk, Va. As the ship took in all lines, the MARFORLANT band played "Anchors Aweigh" in celebration of time well spent.



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