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Forward Deployed ARG Sailors Enjoy Hong Kong Visit

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051118-11
Release Date: 11/18/2005 3:09:00 PM

By Journalist Seaman Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ESSEX, Hong Kong (NNS) -- Ships of the Sasebo-based, three-ship Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) departed Hong Kong after a scheduled port visit Nov. 17 where approximately 2,000 Sailors enjoyed four fun-filled days of shopping, cultural sites and community service projects.

“This port visit has truly been memorable and one that will not be forgotten by our Sailors and their family members who flew over from Sasebo to join them,” said Capt. Mark E. Donahue, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. “There were so many different activities for our Sailors to participate in and take advantage of, I think all of us here leave Hong Kong a little more enriched by this port visit.”

Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Hong Kong hosted a number of tours throughout the ARG’s stay that allowed Sailors to travel throughout Hong Kong Island and also Lantau Island, which is home to the Tian Tan Buddha statue, one of the largest Buddha statues of its kind in the world.

Sailors visited the recently opened Hong Kong Disneyland and enjoyed rides, shows and attractions of the Magic Kingdom. Another popular spot visited by Sailors was Ocean Park, the island’s water-themed amusement park.

“It was a blast!’ said Personnelman Seaman Alfred F. Dateng, who took advantage of MWR’s trip to Disneyland. “I certainly did learn about Hong Kong and was able to see firsthand how much of a thriving place it is. My favorite part was its diversity, in that I was actually able to meet and exchange stories with many people of Philippine heritage, where I was born.”

Sailors also participated in "Meals in the Home", hosted by the Hong Kong American Women's Association (AWA), a friendship activity where Americans living in Hong Kong open their homes to Sailors for a home-cooked meal in a relaxing family setting. Participating Sailors were able to gain a unique perspective of Hong Kong while also sharing their Navy experiences with their hosts.

Sailors from the ARG also participated in various community service activities during their stay in Hong Kong.

Essex Sailors participated in a community service project at the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children, where they assisted the staff in landscaping, painting and making minor repairs to the facility. The volunteer Sailors also joined approximately 80 kids for some fun and games in the playground during their stay.

USS Juneau (LPD 10) Sailors participated in a landscaping project for the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre in Shatin, New Territories, a religious campus that overlooks central Hong Kong. The volunteer Sailors helped move large cinder block squares to create a stone path to the centre's meditation garden.

USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) Sailors participated in a community service project at St. Barnabas' Society and Home, an outreach shelter and lodging for the homeless located in the Western District of Hong Kong. The volunteer Sailors assisted in cleaning and making minor repairs to the facility.

Overall, the Sailors felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction being able to give back to the Hong Kong community during their port visit.

“I’m very proud of the Sailors who took some time during their liberty to give back to the community,” said Chaplain (Lt.) Rean F. Enriquez, Essex chaplain. “Overall, the Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group produced a phenomenal effort, one which may last a lifetime of memories and friendship.”

The Forward Deployed ARG, consisting of Fort McHenry, Juneau and USS Essex (LHD 2) is currently on its routine fall deployment. Essex last visited Hong Kong in November 2003.

Task Force 76 is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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