Friday, October 30, 2009

GW Makes Historic Visit To Hong Kong

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class(SW) John J. Mike, USS George Washington Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- USS George Washington (CVN 73) anchored out in Victoria Harbor Oct. 29, as the ship made the first port call to Hong Kong in its 17-year history.

Joining the more than 5,000 GW and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 Sailors in the visit, are the crews of the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63), the guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77) and the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37).

"Visiting Hong Kong is a big deal for GW," said GW Operations Officer Cmdr. Anthony Calandra. "As the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, this port call helps us foster relations with China, which will help us work together to maintain maritime security in the region."

Renowned for its "East meets West" atmosphere and culture, Calandra said GW Sailors will have a memorable visit to Hong Kong.

"Our Sailors are going to meet some great people, see some great sights and enjoy some of the best cuisine and shopping available in this part of the world," said Calandra.

While in Hong Kong, GW and its escort ships will give back to their hosts by sending 300 Sailors to participate in 17 community service projects.

"These projects provide a great opportunity for our Sailors to exercise community spirit in multiple benevolent acts, which benefit the local community," said Cmdr. Dennis Young, GW command chaplain.

"Hong Kong and China are strategic partners with the U.S. and by getting involved with their communities, we create a spirit of goodwill between our countries," Young said.

As part of the projects, Sailors will do painting at the Hong Kong Society for the Blind, pack rice at a food bank and visit kindergartners at a local school.

Young said the outpouring of interest in community service projects speaks to the integrity of all Sailors and that their service is pivotal in building trust in the Pacific region.

Commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman, the carrier is the flagship of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, Commanded by Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group also includes embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63). Homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, O'Kane and Crommelin are deployed in support of operations in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.