USS George Washington (CVN 73) approaches Busan, July 11. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Beverly J. Lesonik)

BUSAN, Republic of Korea - The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG) arrived in Busan, Republic of Korea (ROK) for a scheduled port visit, July 11.

GWCSG's visit to Busan serves to increase goodwill and partnership between the two nations through community relations (COMREL) and sporting events, ship tours, and a welcome reception for ROK business, civic and military leaders.

"Port visits to Busan are aimed to build friendships and goodwill with the ROK people," said Capt. Greg Fenton, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). "The strike group's visit also demonstrates the United States' commitment to the alliance between our two great countries."

The GWCSG will participate in eight COMREL events, including assisting senior citizens and orphans, and sporting events with local children and clubs.

"The importance of COMRELs is to build relationships with the host nation's people," said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class Cassandra Castaneda, from San Antonio. "Sailors volunteer to assist people in need, and that is the image that we strive to uphold."

GWCSG Sailors will also have the opportunity to participate in Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tours that include visiting the demilitarized zone that separates North and ROK, Busan Temple and Sea Aquarium.

"Sailors who attend MWR tours get to enjoy the Busan culture with friends," said Electrician's Mate Fireman Karlie Gaitan, from San Antonio. "I'm grateful to be able to experience unique places like Busan because many people back in the U.S. don't have this opportunity."

Sailors can also relax, enjoy many sites in Busan and wind down with a little liberty time away from the ship and the demanding schedule of being at sea.

"Busan is small enough that you can see all of the sites without having to spend a fortune," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Barry Johnson, from Charlotte, N.C. "Eating out in town is easier on your wallet compared to other ports like Hong Kong and Singapore, and renting a hotel to recharge is always a must while in port."

The GWCSG consists of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5; Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Shiloh (CG 67); and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63).

The GWCSG is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

Republic of Korea Navy sailors wave South Korean and American flags as USS George Washington (CVN 73) arrives in Busan for a port visit. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Frank L. Andrews)