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USS Gonzalez Makes Port Call in Kenya

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050707-04
Release Date: 7/7/2005 9:34:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class Wes Eplen, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

MOMBASA, Kenya (NNS) -- USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) moored at the Port of Mombasa, Kenya, July 6 for an overnight port call, marking the first time a U.S. ship has visited Mombasa since 1999.

“We really appreciate this visit,” said His Worship the Mayor Taib Ali Taib, mayor of Mombasa. “I don’t think it matters how short the visit. What matters is that you are here. We appreciate the signal [the Gonzalez visit] sends to us as a country.”

The guided-missile destroyer is currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility as part of the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Expeditionary Strike Group and is participating in coalition maritime security operations (MSO).

"Essentially, we're patrolling the waters of the Indian Ocean in order to preserve its use by legitimate mariners, and also to deter and deny international terrorist organizations from using those waters," said Gonzalez Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jeffrey Griffin.

The mayor stressed the importance of MSO to those Kenyans living in the coastal city.

“Mombasa has always been a trade city, and it is important that people come free and leave free to continue commerce,” Taib said.

Operational commitments and a variety of other reasons have generally precluded port visits to Mombasa in the past few years, and Sailors were happy to return.

"We're happy to be the first ship to come back, and we hope that this visit will set the stage for future visits from all our ships," said Griffin.

The Gonzalez crew enjoyed liberty at local resorts, which prepared special meals and shows featuring Masai warriors for the guests. Crew members also had the opportunity to shop for wood carvings, tribal jewelry and other crafts Kenya artisans are known for.

"I'm excited," said Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 3rd Class Tammy Daniels. "I never thought in my life that I'd see Kenya. I am so glad we had this chance."

Key military and political leaders took advantage of the opportunity to engage in professional exchange. A reception was hosted aboard the ship, and the ship's captain called on community and military leaders, including the Kenyan Navy Chief of Naval Operations.

The magnitude of their contributions and commitments while underway in support of MSO was not lost on these Sailors.

"I'm very happy I could do my part," said Daniels. "My brother is in the Army and did a year in Iraq. We're doing our part on the water and I'm proud to be here."

While deployed to the region conducting MSO, the ship helped ward off a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia in early June, and also aided a group of stranded mariners aboard a disabled vessel in the Gulf of Oman.

Gonzalez is homeported in Norfolk, Va.

MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as an avenue for attack of to transport personnel, weapons, or other material.

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