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USS Mitscher Bids Farewell to Montevideo

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070503-09
Release Date: 5/3/2007 5:02:00 PM

By Ensign Laura Dogger, USS Mitscher Public Affairs

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Mitscher (DDG 57) bid farewell to the port of Montevideo, Uruguay, on April 30 following a successful and enjoyable port visit during Partnership of the Americas (POA) 2007.

Montevideo, the southern most capital in South America, is home to rich architecture, tradition and friendly people. Mitscher is the first American ship to enter the port of Montevideo in five years. Despite the period between visits, the relationship between the two countries remains strong.

Mitscher’s visit focused on military-to-military relationships, enhancing an already deep bond between the two countries and aiding in humanitarian efforts through Project Handclasp.

Upon arriving in Montevideo, Cmdr. William P. McKinley, Mitscher commanding officer, hosted a luncheon for several Uruguay dignitaries to include Jim Nealon, deputy chief of mission to Uruguay; Capitan Nelson Olivera, commander of Sea Forces; and Capitan Alvaro Reinoso, Uruguayan Navy chief of staff. Following the luncheon, all visitors were taken on a tour.

The following day, there was a meeting on board Mitscher with junior officers from the Uruguayan Navy to discuss the upcoming UNITAS and the similarities and differences between the two navies. After the meeting and a tour of the ship, the officers from the Mitscher were treated to a tour the Uruguayan Frigate Montevideo.

The officers and crew of Mitscher welcomed nearly 100 Uruguayan Navy and embassy officials to an evening reception the following night. Attendees were invited to participate in guided tours of the ship, treated to music by the Mitscher band, cocktails and refreshments. The evening was a resounding success and the Mitscher crew was honored to host the event.

“It was an honor to have so many distinguished guests on board,” said McKinley. “Events like these really help to build the bonds of friendship between our two countries.”

Guided tours of Mitscher were also provided during the days in port to U.S. Embassy employees and their families. Among the distinguished guests was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Uruguay Frank E. Baxter.

On the evening of April 28, the commanding officer, executive officer, command master chief and other officers were invited to a traditional Uruguayan barbecue at U.S. Army Maj. William McGee’s home. Among the other attendees were Uruguayan Naval officers and guests from the U.S. Embassy. It was a memorable night, allowing fellow officers from the two countries to mingle in a relaxed setting.

"The contacts we made during this port visit will last for many years to come,” said the executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Norm Maple.

A group of Sailors had the opportunity to attend a local futbol, or soccer, match between National and Penarol teams. The event took place in the historical futbol stadium Estado Centenario that hosted the first World Cup in 1930. For many, this was their first time experiencing this national pastime and they got a good taste of the intensity of the fans.

“It was fun, exciting, and definitely an experience to remember,” said Operations Specialist (SW) 2nd Class Aron Plaskon. “I’ve never seen so many people get so excited about one sport in my life!”

Twelve boys, ages 7 to 17, from "Maruja Stirling" visited the ship. The home for boys, directed by the Uruguayan Institute for Children and Adolescents, was provided a ship’s tour that was a great success for both the boys and the crew giving the tours. Maruja Stirling was also a recipient of Project Handclasp materials. Through Project Handclasp, privately donated items are given to people in need.

During the remainder of their stay, Mitscher's crew had many opportunities to experience Uruguayan culture at its finest. From the local cuisine to traditional entertainment, they found the people of Montevideo to be warm and welcoming.

A favorite spot among the Sailors was the Mercado Del Puerto, or Port Market. The market featured handmade crafts, antiques and traditional Uruguayan souvenirs such as the "mate" which is a famous tea served in a "bombilla," a decorated gourd. Inside the market were many restaurants serving barbecued meats and Uruguayan wines.

“The warmth of the people really surprised me,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class (SW) Daniel Montes. “They knew we were outsiders, but they treated us like we were one of them.”

Mitscher is part of Partnership of the Americas Task Group 40.0 that includes dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) and Chilean frigate CS Almirante Latorre (FFG 14) under the tactical command of Capt. Randy Snyder, Commander Destroyer Squadron 40. Pearl Harbor, Samuel B. Roberts and Latorre enjoyed a port visit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the same period.

Partnership of the Americas provides a persistent, visible presence in the U.S. Southern Command area of operations through combined and multilateral engagements at sea and ashore.

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