USS Ashland (LSD 48) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Taylor A. Elberg)

BRISBANE, Australia - Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious transport dock USS Ashland (LSD 48) arrived in Brisbane for a routine port call, June 28.

The port call to Brisbane comes after a month of shipboard joint exercises while operating with Expeditionary Strike Group 7 flagship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

The port visit will be a short break from training and a good opportunity for many of Ashland’s Sailors and Marines to break away from the ship and offer a helping hand to the community through community service projects and activities.

“I think the Sailors on board will have a sense of pride from helping out the community” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class James Christopher, “Spending time with children and the elderly will help the community and give Sailors the opportunity to be ambassadors.”

Servicemembers are participating in three community service events while in port to help strengthen ties with the local Australians.

“It feels good to help people.” said LCpl. Stephanie Pena, assigned to combat cargo with Ashland. “I want to show them how Americans are and I am excited to see how they react to our support of the community.”

While the Sailors and Marines will have a change to build ties with locals in Brisbane, they’ll go on to strengthen their working relationship with the Royal Australian Navy. Ashland, part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Group, will be conducting exercise Talisman Saber 2017 after visiting Brisbane.

Exercise Talisman Saber 2017 is a biennial combined U.S.-Australian training activity, designed to train Australian and US military forces in planning and conducting operations to improve combat readiness and interoperability.

Ashland, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency.