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USS Monterey Visits Key West

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110216-15

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sandi Grimnes, USS Monterey Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) completed a successful port visit in Key West, Fla., Feb. 14, wrapping up the ship's composite training unit exercise and propelling them into a Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) with the George H.W. Bush Strike Group.

During the port visit, Monterey Sailors participated in a community relations (COMREL) project, cleaning up Little Hamaca Park with Reef Relief, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving coral reef, Feb. 12.

"It's so rewarding to give back to the community that we visit," said Fire Controlman 2nd Class (SW) Feena Dwiggins, COMREL coordinator. "We spend so much time on the ocean, that cleaning up the shore line just seemed right."

Together Sailors helped Reef Relief pick up 551 pounds of trash during the three-hour event.

"The ecosystem of the coral reef off the coast of Key West starts on land in the mangroves, the sea-grass bed and the coral reef," said Millard McCleary, Reef Relief program director. "What people do on land ends up affecting the coral."

"We really appreciate the Monterey coming in and giving some volunteers to help us out," said McCleary. "We always need help. We are a small organization, and we do big things but there are only four of us. It's great to have this many volunteers come help us out."

While the port visit was a working port for the crew, many had the opportunity to enjoy all Key West had to offer for entertainment; from snorkeling and sightseeing, to ghost tours and nightlife.

"I had the opportunity to experience a unique environment and culture here in Key West," said Yeoman 3rd Class Tracy L. Caputo. "It was so great and refreshing to take a break from being out at sea and visit somewhere I have never been before."

As Monterey steamed away from Key West, USS Monterey Commanding Officer Capt. James W. Kilby, praised the crew over the announcement system for an outstanding port visit and all the work they accomplished on topside preservation.

Monterey returned to sea Feb. 14, to conduct JTFEX in preparation for deployment.

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