In this file photo, USS Frank Cable (AS 40) returns to Guam in January following a Saipan port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Corey Hensley)

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - The submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) arrived in Sepangar Bay Feb. 28 for the first of several operational port visits in the region over the next month.

During this visit, Frank Cable will facilitate a series of military-to-milatary interactions to strengthen the U.S. Navy's relationship with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN). Sailors will also reach out to the local population through community service (COMSERV) projects.

"It is vital for our relations with the host countries that we visit to remain strong," said Frank Cable Command Master Chief Roger Schneider. "They are our partners and maintaining constant, positive interactions and relations with them will benefit not only our country but theirs as well."

According to Schneider, this port visit will give Sailors the opportunity to act as goodwill ambassadors as they interact with local communities while out on liberty and participating in COMSERVS. Scheduled projects include a visit to a local hospital and a children's orphanage.

"For the crew of Frank Cable, this is one of the reasons most joined the Navy, to see the world," Schneider said. "We not only get to do that, but also have an opportunity to give back. Many Sailors love nothing more than to feel pride in helping others."

Although it is a working port for the crew, many will still have time to enjoy the benefits of MWR sanctioned tours that allow them to learn some of the local customs, and explore local cultural sites around Kota Kinabalu.

"I am excited about the port call due to the fact I have never been to Malaysia," said Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Kristin Pacheco. "I am looking forward to going on a water rafting trip, and my sister told me of a building downtown that used to be the tallest in Malaysia."

Pacheco, who donates a great deal of her free time to command functions and COMSERVs in every port Frank Cable visits, said that it's important to stay active and give back to communities. "For me this a huge stress relief, by helping others and making their lives better it helps me relieve the stresses of work," said Pacheco. "These types of experiences help you to be patient and to appreciate what you have in life."

Schneider said that as guests in a foreign nation, the crew hopes to make this visit a positive experience for both Sailors and Malaysian citizens alike, accepting opportunities to learn about and exercise respect for the rich Malaysian culture and traditions.

"We are the visitors to their country and should only feel humbled to have the ability to be a part of their customs," said Schneider. "The crew is grateful for the port visit and looks forward to what it may have in store for us."

Frank Cable conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.