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Bataan Enjoys Port Visits, Continues Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070202-12
Release Date: 2/2/2007 5:00:00 PM

By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Brian Anderson, USS Bataan Public Affairs

USS BATAAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Bataan (LHD 5) and elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) wrapped up successful port visits to Palermo, Sicily, and Marmaris, Turkey, on Jan. 26.

These visits marked Bataan’s first and second port calls for approximately 2,700 Sailors and Marines before continuing the ship's regularly-scheduled deployment.

The visits offered them the opportunity to experience Italian and Turkish cultures, as well as promote security cooperation which fosters commitments to regional stability, advances multi-national coordination and teamwork, and deters potential adversaries.

The historic cities offered Bataan Sailors and Marines many activities and attractions. The ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department arranged nearly 1,800 tours for crew members between the two port visits.

“The tours offered Sailors and Marines a different experience than what they’re used to. If I was able to bring some type of satisfaction or a stress relief, and new experiences to those who work so hard, then I feel like I’ve done my job,” said MWR Activities Director Ivory Harris.

Bataan Command Master Chief (SW/FMF/AW) James Tubbs said as a result of all the hard work the crew puts into the ship during deployment, the port visits offered the crew a chance to unwind.

“With the workups and a pending deployment wrapped around a short holiday schedule to kick things off, the stops offered everybody a chance to let their hair down and relax,” said Tubbs.

The host nations also benefited from the visits.

“Not only did we provide a shot in the arm to their economies during the winter season,” said Tubbs. He added it also gave the two countries a chance to see the high level of professionalism of the Sailors and Marines.

Bonds between Sailors and Marines became stronger with the port visits as well.

“These port visits were a great time for our Sailors and Marines to get ashore whether it be on the pier, standing duty with one another or shopping and getting a meal together. It gave the chance for everybody to get together in a more relaxed atmosphere,” Tubbs said.

For some, the port calls were a first.

“I’ve never been to Italy or Turkey,” said Aviation Ordananceman Airman (AW) Phillip Williams. “It was an experience of a lifetime. One of the reasons I joined the Navy was to see the world.”

The foreign stops are more than just a vacation.

“It’s a chance to strengthen relationships throughout the world,” said Tubbs. “It’s a chance for us to associate with the places we visit and support them. Going to places like Turkey and Sicily and meeting the people there and shaking their hands, walking down their streets and sampling their food, and getting to know we have friends out there.”

Bataan, commanded by Capt. David Hulse, left her homeport of Norfolk on Jan. 4 on a regularly-scheduled deployment as the flagship of the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), which is comprised of the Bataan Strike Group and the 26th MEU. The Bataan Strike Group is commanded by Capt. Donna Looney and includes Amphibious Squadron 2, Bataan, USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Underwood (FFG 36), and USS Scranton (SSN 756). The 26th MEU is based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., and is commanded by Col. Gregg Sturdevant.

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