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DILI, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste - Sailors from U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), embarked 7th Fleet staff and Marines assigned to Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific anchored off the coast of Dili for a port visit June 24.
This marks Blue Ridge's first port visit to Dili since 2000. Sailors and Marines will participate in various community service (COMSERV) events, to include delivering sporting goods to children's homes, painting a local medical clinic, and assisting local students with schoolwork.
"My visit to Timor-Leste will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I want to participate in a COMSERV to help share the experience," said Hull Technician 3rd Class William Lomax. "I hope our visit leaves the children with some memorable smiles and laughs."
COMSERVs present an opportunity for Blue Ridge to strengthen relationships between the U.S. and Timor-Leste, said Lt. Donald Baker, Blue Ridge chaplain.
"The U.S. is a strong supporter of Timor-Leste, and our interaction here will only solidify our commitment to the country and its people," added Baker.
Sailors and Marines are also looking forward to visiting the beaches in Dili, as well as buildings and monuments that still remain from when the city was a Portuguese colony.
"I want to learn and know as much as possible about this country, its culture and everything they have to offer," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class John Richardson. "I plan to visit the country's beautiful beaches and hike up to Cape Fatucama to see just how majestic the city is."
The 7th Fleet staff will kick off the visit by hosting a reception on Blue Ridge's main deck, establishing positive theater security cooperation between Blue Ridge and East Timorese nationals.
As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott Swift, Blue Ridge is crucial in maintaining a presence in the South Indo-Asia Pacific region, strengthening allied ties through community service projects and conducting joint military exercises with regional nations.