USS New Orleans (LPD 18) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Brian Caracci)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - USS New Orleans (LPD 18) with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for a port visit, July 24.

The ship and embarked MEU are in Sri Lanka to increase bilateral ties with the Sri Lanka Navy and exchange best practices on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"This is a great occasion not only in providing an opportunity to visit the people of Colombo and to experience the rich culture of Sri Lanka, but also to work closely with the Sri Lankan Navy in exchanging best practices and strengthening bilateral ties. Engagements such as this allow us to share experiences and improve interoperability for both navies," said Capt. Glenn Jamison, commanding officer of New Orleans. "The crew is truly excited for this visit after an extended deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, and I look forward to this opportunity to continue building upon our partnership with Sri Lanka."

Approximately 200 sailors from the Sri Lanka Navy will participate in the two-day humanitarian assistance and disaster relief information exchange, led by members of 13th MEU and experts from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“We look forward to exchanging best practices with our Sri Lankan partners,” said Maj. John Arnold, commander of the 13th MEU forces on the USS New Orleans. “Opportunities to exchange expertise on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief help us understand how to best integrate with our regional partners during crisis response or other military operations.”

Along with members of the U.S. Embassy, the Sailors and Marines will visit local health clinics and schools in Colombo and provide free health screenings.

Additionally, through the U.S. Navy’s Project Handclasp program, the ship will deliver more than 600 books to a Sri Lankan school library.

This is the second U.S. Navy ship to visit Sri Lanka in the past four months, following the visit of the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in March.

New Orleans, part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, and embarked 13th MEU are currently in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations after an extended deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.