In this file photo, guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) operate together in the Pacific Ocean in September 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devon Dow)

DONGHAE, Republic of Korea - Four U.S. Navy forward-deployed guided-missile destroyers and their crews arrived in Donghae and Pyeongtaek, March 9, to support exercise Foal Eagle 2013.

USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) pulled into Donghae and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS McCampbell (DDG 85) stopped in Pyeongtaek.

"The port visit is very important to set up exercise Foal Eagle and to establish relationships between the two navies." said Cmdr. Scott McClelland, Lassen's commanding officer. "We'll also be able to conduct community relations, show the goodwill of the U.S. Navy and interact with our Republic of Korea counterparts."

The scheduled visit enables Sailors to explore the cities and the surrounding area to better understand the Republic of Korea (ROK) culture. "I want to taste new food and I really want to visit the caves," said Seaman Vanessa Ruiz, from Rio Grande, Texas of Lassen. "I'm just really excited to visit a new place and explore South Korea with my shipmates."

The U.S. Navy has worked with the ROK in military exercises to improve capabilities of both Armed Forces since the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty was signed Oct. 1, 1953. Foal Eagle is an annual defense-oriented training exercise designed to enhance combat readiness to protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula.

"Participation in Foal Eagle is a great way for the ship to demonstrate warfighting capability," said McClelland. "This type of exercise provides a great opportunity to work with the Republic of Korea forces. We will increase warfighting effectiveness by learning each other's tactics so if the need arises we will be able to support our allies."

Lassen, Fitzgerald, John S. McCain and McCampbell are a part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and are participating in exercise Foal Eagle 2013 with allied nation Republic of Korea in support of regional security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.