USS America (LHA 6) approaches the pier at RSS Singapura - Changi Naval Base, Dec. 22. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Christopher A. Veloicaza)

SINGAPORE - The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) along with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit returned to Singapore for a scheduled port visit, Dec. 22.

While this is not America’s first time visiting the country, the Sailors and Marines look forward to visiting Singapore for the holiday.

“The America team is honored to visit Singapore," said Capt. Joseph Olson, the ship's commanding officer. "Our visit is an opportunity for the ship to replenish supplies, and experience the country’s rich culture as we represent our country as ambassadors of goodwill during the holidays."

Since the ship recently returned to 7th Fleet, the crew will also take advantage of the opportunity to conduct some routine maintenance while in port.

“The focus is to make sure everything stays operational and fully mission capable, and to set ourselves up for the return home,” said Lt. James Thompson, auxiliary officer from America’s engineering department.

The Sailors and Marines will have the chance to embark on tours and events arranged by the ship’s afloat recreation program which will allow them to explore Singapore. These tours include seeing the majestic arts at the Lion City, visiting Universal Studios, exploring a night safari at the zoo and many others. Additionally, the crew will also participate in some friendly competition with organized soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball games.

“We have some incredible talent on America and it’s a pleasure to organize and make arrangements to play some sports while we’re in port,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Kevin P. Smith, America’s volleyball team captain.

After the holiday visit to Singapore, America will continue training with allies and partners in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

“Being deployed for the holidays is bittersweet for me, as this is my first Christmas away from my family,” said Seaman Yamilet Marmalegos, assigned to America’s deck department. “It’s definitely a special treat to be in port instead of out to sea, and experience Christmas with my second family aboard America in Singapore.”

Singapore is the first stop for the San Diego-based ship’s return to 7th Fleet following their operations in 5th Fleet, including their participation in the Dubai Air Show and the combat rehearsal Alligator Dagger.

Since they deployed in July, the Sailors and Marines have trained with partner militaries to enhance relationships with nations in the U.S. Pacific and Central Command areas of responsibility as well as strengthen their proficiency in the execution of amphibious operations.

America, part of the America Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Asia Pacific region to strengthen partnerships and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.