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USS Lassen Returns from Australian Tour

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070531-21
Release Date: 5/31/2007 10:10:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gabriel S. Weber, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Japan

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) returned to its forward-deployed operating base June 1 following a three-port tour of Australia during a two-month underway period.

During the visits to Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, Lassen's crew marched in the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day parade, helped to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, and participated in numerous community relations activities.

"The main thing we accomplished was we showed some solidarity and support for our Australian allies," said Cmdr. Marshall Brown, Lassen's commanding officer. "It was an honor for me and the crew to be able to meet both Australian and American veterans of World War II. I felt like it gave us a chance to recognize them for their service and sacrifice at a very important time in our history."

"I was personally very impressed by the reception that they gave us," said Command Master Chief (SW) Walter Ritchie, Lassen's command master chief. "Our crew's participation gave an American face and a uniformed show of support."

In addition to taking part in the commemorations of ANZAC Day and the Battle of the Coral Sea, Lassen Sailors visited children's hospitals, a teen rehabilitation center, helped to repaint an ambulance depot, and participated in a day of cultural exchange with Australian residents.

Chief Fire Controlman (SW) Daniel Glatz, Lassen's COMREL coordinator, said that participating in these events gave Lassen Sailors a unique opportunity.

"It's a chance for them to turn the tables," said Glatz, speaking of the teen rehabilitation COMREL. "Up to this point a lot of the younger Sailors have looked at role models in their lives. This is, a lot of times, first opportunities for them to be role models."

"I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old, I got stuck in the hospital for a month," said Ship's Serviceman (SW) Seaman Rafael Estelle, who visited children's hospitals in both Brisbane and Adelaide. "It was important for people to come by and visit me and show me that they cared. Something was given to me, so I feel like I should give it back to them."

The ship and crew also gave an air warfare demonstration and dozens of tours for numerous Australian military and civic leaders, according to Brown.

"We brought them on board and showed them exactly what we do every day," said Brown. "They frequently said they were impressed with the ship and, of course, even more impressed with the people they met in the crew."

Ritchie said he is very proud of the Sailors aboard Lassen for the impression they left on the people of Australia.

"Every one of us is an ambassador when we go to these other countries," said Ritchie. "We are the face of America. Our Sailors were great ambassadors. The goodwill that we showed as a ship, the face that we showed of the United States to the people in each port, I believe, is going to pay off in high dividends in our friendship [with Australia]."

With the Australian tour behind the ship and its crew, Lassen is looking forward to the tasks that lie ahead, according to Brown.

"In the forward deployed naval force, we don't really slow down," said Brown. "We will stay busy and that's the way we like it."

Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

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