CAIRNS, Australia - Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) pulled into Cairns, Australia ,for a port visit, Nov. 21.
The visit comes after Green Bay's crew and the embarked Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 469 provided security and support during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, working closely with government entities including the Royal Australian Navy landing helicopter dock ship HMAS Adelaide (L01).
“The Sailors and Marines of Green Bay were proud to represent the United States and provide security and support during the APEC conference,’ said Capt. Tom Shultz, Green Bay’s commanding officer. “While in Port Moresby, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with HMAS Adelaide (L01), conducting joint operations to include both helicopter and personnel changes. The strong relationship between the United States and Australia allowed us to operate together seamlessly. After completing those operations, it’s great to be back in Cairns after our last visit in June 2017. The crew had a great time during that 2017 visit, and now after another warm welcome, we look forward to again enjoying everything this great city and area have to offer.”
The port visit will be a break from the ship's underway operations where Sailors and Marines can explore the city of Cairns, take tours and have the opportunity to volunteer in command-coordinated community service projects.
“Visiting and helping out however we can is the least we can do based on the welcome and hospitality we have received,” said Lt. Danny Cho, Green Bay’s command chaplain. “The crew will all enjoy the tourism opportunities here, but these outreach events give us the chance to develop a deeper bond with the community and offer another way to say thank you for all the support.”
Green Bay's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department coordinated seven tours to highlight recreational opportunities in the city. Among other tour options, Green Bay Sailors and Marines can explore the vibrant waters of the Great Barrier Reef or explore the rainforest on a rafting adventure.
“Our goal is to make sure our Sailors and Marines have the opportunity to get the most out of each port visit,” said Ensign Mike Vassallo, Green Bay’s recreational services officer. “Our crew works hard on a daily basis and we want them to enjoy the beauty and culture Australia has to offer.”
Getting ahead of the holiday, the crew enjoyed a family-style Thanksgiving feast put on by the ship’s supply department. As a gift to the crew, the Second Class Petty Officer Association purchased and served a variety of pies and cheesecakes for all to enjoy and the commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief served meals to the crew during the festivities.
“We’ve spent the last few weeks planning and preparing to make sure everything went smoothly,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Joe Mironchik. “It’s the first time a lot of Sailors and Marines are away from home for Thanksgiving and we wanted to make sure everyone felt right at home here with our Green Bay family.”
Green Bay, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 2009. The ship is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan as part of Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet and is operating in the region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. HMLS-469 is forward deployed to Okinawa, Japan.