Thursday, September 27, 2007

Patriot, Lassen Arrive in Russia for Pacific Eagle

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Joshua J. Wahl, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Sasebo, Japan

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (NNS) -- USS Patriot (MCM 7) and USS Lassen (DDG 82), arrived to one of Russia’s largest port cities Sept. 24 as part of a scheduled port visit and in conjunction with the bilateral exercise, Pacific Eagle, to be conducted with the Russian Federation Navy (RFN).

Pacific Eagle consists of a series of maritime activities, to include mine countermeasures, aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the region by enhancing the strategic partnership between Russia and the United States.

During the ships' stay in Vladivostok, crew members will have a chance to participate in friendship-building activities, cultural exchanges and community service events with the local population.

There will also be an in-port phase of Pacific Eagle, to be followed by an at-sea phase.

“I definitely believe in participating in this joint exercise so that both navies can learn lessons from our rich traditions and rich histories, along with promoting stability in the region,” said Patriot Commanding Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz. “I am extremely looking forward to working with the RFN as part of Pacific Eagle.”

The Russian Pacific Fleet and U.S. Navy have a common understanding and knowledge of a shared working environment at sea. This visit and ensuing exercise is expected to increase the level of understanding and partnership into the future, said naval leaders from both countries.

“We hope Patriot’s participation in Pacific Eagle will be a continuing trend to bring more U.S. Navy ships here for future exercises and build good relations between our two nations,” said Patriot Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Y. Shu.

Patriot last visited in July 2005 and conducted a mine countermeasures passing exercise (PASSEX) with the RFN along with fellow Sasebo minesweeper USS Guardian (MCM 5).

Many of the Patriot Sailors expect to make the most of this opportunity to visit and explore the surrounding culture.

“I have heard so many good things about the traditions and history of this port so I am really looking forward to getting out and exploring,” said Yeomen 1st Class Steven L. Hood. “I am happy to be here with the Navy because I know it is an opportunity to see sites very few people get to experience first hand."

Patriot has been operating in the Western Pacific under Task Force 76, which serves as 7th Fleet’s mine countermeasures arm in forward-deployed operations from Sasebo, Japan.