Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Carrier Strike Group 7 Departs Hong Kong After Port Visit

By Lt. Ron Flanders, Carrier Strike Group 7 Public Affairs

The guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), left, and the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) are moored at the foot of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG (NNS) -- The six ships and more than 7,000 Sailors of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 departed Hong Kong, June 22, after four days in port.

CSG 7 includes the flagship, Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76); embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14; and the ships of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7; the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Gridley (DDG 101) and the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43).

While in port, Sailors enjoyed sightseeing, shopping and tours of Hong Kong provided by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR). Additionally, more than 300 Sailors participated in 15 community relations (COMREL) projects in the local community.

"For the American Sailor, service to others, especially those in need, is job number one," said Cmdr. Greg Gombert, commanding officer of USS Gridley. "This is America at its best."

Many of the COMREL projects CSG 7 Sailors volunteered for directly benefited children and the elderly. USS Decatur and USS Ronald Reagan Sailors -- 45 in all -- visited the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children's Wai Yin Nursery School, where they sang songs and played games with the children.

"It was a great experience," said Yeoman Seaman Erika Cash of Decatur. "It was culturally enlightening to be able to interact with the children in Hong Kong, and we all had a great time doing it."

In addition, 30 Ronald Reagan Sailors visited the Fu Hong Society, a home for the mentally and physically disabled, where they spent time with the residents.

"They really brightened up when they saw us," said Chief Storekeeper Ron Taylor. "I had a great time."

According to USS Ronald Reagan's chaplain, Cmdr. Lee Axtell, the number of volunteers for Hong Kong COMRELs, exceeded available opportunities.

"The crews really stepped up with their time and talent," Axtell said. "Each COMREL list was filled to capacity very quickly."