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USS Kearsarge Completes Port Visit to Augusta Bay, Sicily

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110426-15

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stevie Tate, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4 Public Affairs

AUGUSTA BAY, Sicily (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) wrapped up a 10-day port visit to Augusta Bay, Sicily, April 20.

The port visit served a dual purpose of allowing the ship to complete maintenance on some of the various engineering and combat systems components, as well as giving the crew liberty to enjoy the Italian culture and relax after an extended time at sea.

"This was a great liberty and working port," said Capt. Baxter Goodly, Kearsarge's commanding officer. "A lot of effort went into repairs, maintenance and getting the ship painted, which is something we received many compliments on. While on liberty we were excellent ambassadors for America and the Navy. All in all, it was a very successful port visit."

During the port visit, Sailors and Marines were given the opportunity to tour some of the cultural and historical sights that Sicily has to offer, including the volcano Mt. Etna, the Sicilian city of Catania and the historic city of Syracuse. These tours were offered by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Committee.

"It was great having the opportunity to visit a place like Mt. Etna," said Lt. Anthony Franklin, Kearsarge's administration officer. "MWR did a great job in making a once in a lifetime opportunity accessible to the crew."

Kearsarge Sailors and Marines also took advantage of the hospitality of Naval Air Station Sigonella. The Commissary, Navy Exchange and MWR facilities were a nice reminder of home for many, and the Kearsarge basketball and soccer teams played teams from NAS Sigonella.

During the last day in Augusta Bay, the chief's mess, First Class Petty Officers Association (FCPOA) and MWR teamed up to give the crew a barbecue on the pier.

"There wasn't any transportation for the last day in Augusta Bay, which meant the crew wasn't going to be able to go anywhere," said Master Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Michael Coppola. "We still wanted the crew to be able to have liberty, so we got some grills together and cooked up some hamburgers, sausages and kabobs. ... it wound up being a great way to spend our last night in Sicily."

Kearsarge got underway April 21 and will remain in the Mediterranean Sea until the ship officially turnovers with USS Bataan (LHD 5) in late April 2011. Following the turnover, Kearsarge will transit across the Atlantic Ocean for its homecoming in Norfolk.

"After everything we've been through, getting the chance to visit a port as great as this one is awesome," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Aaron Arreoloa. "It's really been the first chance we've had in months to relax and really enjoy ourselves. It's a great reward for all of the work we've put in this deployment."

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