SYDNEY (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) departed Sydney following a four-day port visit, July 3.
During the visit, Bonhomme Richard Sailors and Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) hosted shipboard tours, participated in community service (COMSERV) projects, and took advantage of tours offered through Bonhomme Richards' Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office.
Sailors from Bonhomme Richard visited the Sydney Children's Hospital on two separate days as part of the COMSERV projects.
"The volunteers really seemed to enjoy their time with the kids," said Religious Programs Specialist Seaman Luis Castro, a COMSERV co-coordinator. "You could see it in the eyes of the volunteers and the children we went to visit. These opportunities always give us a new perspective and are the reasons we enjoy giving back."
The crew also had the chance to experience the culture and community of Sydney through MWR tours which were designed to highlight local recreational opportunities.
"We sponsored tours all over Sydney including the Blue Mountains, a rugby game and of course the Sydney Opera House," said Ricah Quinto, Bonhomme Richard's fun boss. "Giving the Sailors and Marines an opportunity to kick back and relax, see the sites and have a great experience is what this is all about. There was a great turnout and we received positive feedback from everyone."
Sydney was the first opportunity for Bonhomme Richards' crew to enjoy a port visit since they began operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in June, conducting multiple exercises, drills and training. Prior to arriving in Sydney, an at-sea ceremony was held aboard the ship, commencing the biennial exercise Talisman Saber 2017 (TS17).
"My first port visit to Sydney was everything I wanted it to be," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Elliot Jones. "This has been a bucket list item for me for a long time now and to finally come here, see the [Sydney] Opera House, try some new food and have fun with my friends and shipmates, it's truly an experience I'll never forget. I'll have these memories forever."
Talisman Saber is a biennial U.S.-Australia bilateral military exercise that combines a field training exercise and command post exercise to strengthen interoperability and response capabilities to uphold the tenets of the U.S.-Australian alliance.
Bonhomme Richard, flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency.
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