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Patriot and Guardian Arrive in Vietnam for Historic Port Visit

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071114-09
Release Date: 11/14/2007 1:43:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Joshua J. Wahl, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Sasebo, Japan

HAI PHONG, Vietnam (NNS) -- The Japan-based mine countermeasure ships USS Patriot (MCM 7) and USS Guardian (MCM 5) arrived in Hai Phong or a scheduled port visit, Nov. 14.

The port call marked the first visit by a U.S. Navy ship to Hai Phong since 1973, when the U.S. Navy, in coordination with the Vietnamese military conducted Operation End Sweep, a mine clearance operation to clear mines located in the Hai Phong channel.

The arrival of U.S. 7th Fleet vessels to Vietnam represented an important opportunity to promote peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific region, foster further relationships between the two countries and help ensure the free flow of trade on the open ocean.

"This visit to Vietnam will allow us to increase the cooperative engagement between our countries and navies," said Patriot's commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz. "It also permits the Sailors and local citizens to have a chance to interact and learn from each other while in Hai Phong."

While in port, the ship's crewmembers will have a chance to meet local citizens and experience local customs and traditions of the Vietnamese people.

"The experience to visit and meet the people of Vietnam is absolutely the best way for us to come together and build friendships," said Mineman 2nd Class (SW) Troy M. Reed. "I hope that we will be able to work together now and well into the future."

During their visit, the crews will also participate in friendship-building and community relations activities. These projects include working to help renovate the Hai Phong City School for Deaf Children and School for Blind Children of Hai Phong.

Sailors will also play a volleyball match with Sailors from the People's Army of Vietnam, conduct ship tours for local guests, and enjoy visiting historical and cultural sites around Hai Phong City.

"Vietnam is one of my favorite ports in the world," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Michael I. Berlingeri. "I had a very memorable experience meeting the Vietnamese people when I visited Ho Chi Minh City before, and now I am very excited we have a chance to come here and experience the cultural beauty of Vietnam again."

Patriot and Guardian are assigned to Mine Division 11 as Task Force 76's mine countermeasures arm in forward-deployed operations. Task Force 76, the Navy's forward-deployed amphibious force commander, is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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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