Vandegrift Down Under
Story Number: NNS050720-13
Release Date: 7/20/2005 2:01:00 PM
By Ensign Tracie Weber, USS Vandergrift Public Affairs
BRISBANE, Australia (NNS) -- USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) departed Brisbane, Australia, July 5 after four days of rest and relaxation, following the ship’s participation in Exercise Talisman Saber 2005.
The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate operated for three weeks with other units from the U.S. and Australian armed services in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area near the Great Barrier Reef.
Regarded by locals as the River City, Brisbane rests on a river of the same name and is Australia’s third largest city.
Rugby matches, Australian Rules football (‘footy’ for short), Steve Irwin’s famous crocodile zoo and unlimited shopping were just some of the activities that enabled Vandegrift Sailors to maximize their time.
“We took a catamaran ride on the Brisbane River and saw the city from a completely different perspective,” said Lt. j.g. Bryan Weatherup of San Diego. “The city itself is beautiful, but the view from the river is amazing.”
In addition to shopping and sight-seeing, Vandegrift Sailors also mingled with the local population. The American Legion of Australia treated the crew and commanding officers of Vandegrift and USS Key West (SSN 722) to a barbecue.
“I thought the picnic was a nice gesture and really made me feel like [the U.S. Navy] was welcome in Australia,” said Storekeeper 2nd Class Bernard Shepherd, of Reidsville, N.C.
July 4, the Australian-American Association threw a traditional Independence Day celebration for their patriotic guests with heaps of hot dogs, burgers and cold refreshments.
“I am used to celebrating Independence Day with my family, but celebrating it on another continent with the Australians was really significant,” said Ens. Michael Moran of Natchitoches, La. “It reminded me of the importance of the day, which I think most Americans tend to forget.”
While in Brisbane, Sailors also took the time to learn about the shared history of the United States and Australia, which included Gen. Douglas MacArthur in World War II. At the American Legion picnic, crew members had the opportunity to reminisce with several Australian World War II veterans who expressed their immense respect for the Americans’ visit to Australia.
“The bond between the U.S. and Australia is quite possibly the strongest in the world today,” said Cmdr. David Chase, Vandegrift’s commanding officer. “The goodwill and hospitality shown Vandegrift during our visit was truly amazing. We left Australia with many new friends.”
Brisbane was Vandegrift’s third port visit and second in Australia since departing Japan in May. Vandegrift is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Strike Group.
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