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Bataan Wraps Up Successful Fleet Week USA Visit

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050504-13
Release Date: 5/4/2005 1:17:00 PM

By Chief Journalist (SW/AW) Dave Fitz, USS Bataan Public Affairs

FLORIDA (NNS) -- USS Bataan (LHD 5) departed the South Florida region May 1 after participating in the 2005 Fleet Week USA festivities and the Air and Sea Show held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., April 25-May 1.

Fleet Week is geared toward helping recruit new Sailors and retain those who already are in the Navy. It is also a chance for the public to get an up close and personal view of the Navy and its Sailors.

Bataan was one of six U.S. Navy ships and one British ship to participate in the celebration. Due to force protection reasons, the ships were not open for general visits. However, Bataan hosted numerous Delayed Entry Program (DEP) Sailors and interested applicants from Navy Recruiting District Miami. The future Sailors were able to see Navy vessels firsthand.

“The tours were a great opportunity for my DEP Sailors to get a hands-on look at their future,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF/SW/AW) Noel Martinez, Navy recruiter from the Point Royale Recruiting Station in Miami and former Bataan Sailor. “I tell a lot of sea stories from my time stationed aboard Bataan. Instead of them imagining my stories, I could show them the picture I was painting.”

If Sailors were not busy hosting their future shipmates, they were out enjoying South Florida. Each day, there was ample opportunity for Sailors and Marines to take Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tours, head to the South Florida beaches, participate in intramural sporting events or help out the community by volunteering their efforts for the Habitat for Humanity projects or visiting local schools and hospitals.

For some Sailors, being in Florida was just like coming home - literally.

Airman Jasmin Rosario, who joined the Navy a short six months ago in Miami, could not believe her first port visit would be less than 30 miles from her hometown.

“My family is very proud of me,” the 20-year old said. “They got a chance to see where I work and meet the people I work with. It was just as exciting for them as it was for me.”

The highlights of her trip to South Florida were bringing her father and grandmother on board for a tour and manning the rails upon entering Port Everglades.

“Standing on the flight deck in my summer whites felt very special,” the V-4 division Sailor said. “It made me proud to serve as I saw people in the condos and the beach waving American flags for us.”

It was not all play for Bataan Sailors and Marines. More than 60 crew members volunteered their time to Habitat for Humanity projects. Others visited one of the ship’s Partners in Education Schools, Crystal Lake Middle School.

The ship steamed a short distance April 29 to be a backdrop and participant for the McDonald’s Sea and Air Show. Two Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4, based out of Little Creek, Va., did two high-speed passes 500 feet from the beach during the air show.

Meanwhile, the flight deck of "Big 5" hosted a summertime steel beach picnic, with the ship’s band playing music and the grills fired up to cook hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken. It was a chance for the crew to relax and enjoy one of the best vantage points for the six-hour sea and air show.

“The air show was awesome,” said Airman (AW) Lisa Watson, one of the narrators helping keep the crew informed of what was happening from the ship’s Primary Flight Control tower. “Some of the planes came close to the ship low and fast, and caught many by surprise. The air show was the icing on the cake for a great week spent in South Florida.”

Bataan is currently steaming back toward its homeport of Norfolk and will soon go back to sea for flight operations later this month.

Other ships participating in the “National Salute to the U.S. Military” include Norfolk-based amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13), guided-missile destroyers USS Laboon (DDG 58) and USS Stout (DDG 55), and fast-attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769), as well as the Pascagoula, Miss.-based guided-missile cruiser USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51). Representing the Royal Navy was the icebreaker HMS Endurance (A171), based in HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, England.

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