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Mount Whitney visits Portsmouth, England

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080311-16
Release Date: 3/11/2008 2:21:00 PM

By Lt. Johnny Quezada, USS Mount Whitney Public Affairs

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- Crew members of USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) concluded an eventful three-day port visit to Portsmouth, England March 3-6 after completing a NATO exercise.

While in port, the ship hosted a reception for 67 community leaders including the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth.

"This is my first-ever port visit to England and I'm going to do everything in my power to come back." said Commanding Officer Capt. O. P. Honors. "I'm very proud to be the CO of Mount Whitney and have an opportunity to strengthen our longstanding partnership with our good friends in the Royal Navy."

While in the United Kingdom, Mount Whitney and Military Sealift Command Sailors had the opportunity to experience both modern English culture and Royal Navy History.

Portsmouth is a major port for the British Navy with a number of modern vessels and historic ships, giving the crew a prime opportunity to learn about the origins of many U.S. naval traditions.

Portsmouth is also home to HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world and Lord Nelson's Battle of Trafalgar Flagship, is now a museum attracting thousands of tourists each year, including crew members from Mount Whitney.

"It is an awesome ship, especially when you consider it was built in the 1750's. I was surprised by the amount of room on the decks," said Lt. Cmdr. Wayne Galbraith.

Because a tour of Victory was free to any U.S. Navy Sailor presenting a valid military ID, "you couldn't beat the price," Galbraith added.

For those seeking a more modern liberty experience, many Sailors flocked to England's capital.

Sailors used London's expansive underground transit system, commonly referred to as "the tube", to get around and see sights such as Trafalgar Square, the Crown Jewels, Tower Bridge, and Westminster Abbey. Sailors also rode the London Eye and enjoyed local cuisine and shopping.

Since it's commissioning in January 1971, Mount Whitney has made 14 port calls to Portsmouth. This stop was particularly enjoyable for the ship's Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Wenke, who was stationed in Portsmouth while on exchange with the Royal Navy from 1998-2000.

"I met my wife who was in the Royal Navy while stationed here," said Wenke. "It was great to be back and catch up with friends. The city is awesome. I'd love to come back."

The crew enjoyed and appreciated the hospitality of the English people who provided free busses to London for the crew. Portsmouth will remain a favorite stop for the Mount Whitney.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe -U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.



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