TAHITI (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), made a scheduled port visit to Papeete, Tahiti, July 18.
It is the first time in five years that a U.S. Navy ship has visited French Polynesia. Sailors proudly manned the ship's rails as Mustin entered the port and received a warm welcome from a large and enthusiastic crowd of local government officials, French naval officers, dignitaries and citizens.
The arriving Sailors were treated to a dance show by a troupe of native Tahitian dancers on the pier. Mustin returned the hospitality of their host country by holding a formal evening reception aboard the ship for the island's civilian and military leaders that evening.
During the visit, the French navy hosted several events for the visiting Americans, including a luncheon aboard the French warship Prairial (F 731) and several competitive volleyball games between the American and French navies.
Mustin Sailors enthusiastically engaged in island outdoor recreational activities over the course of the ship's four-day visit. Several tours were offered to the visitors, including a "canyoning" expedition to the heights of the volcanic Tahitian mountains, a guided bus tour of Tahiti's major historical sites, and a trip to the pristine island of Moorea only 12 miles away. The Sailors took advantage of the warm tropical waters surrounding Tahiti and indulged in world-class snorkeling, diving and surfing.
Mustin crew members found Tahiti to be a beautiful and welcoming place. Many Sailors remarked about the friendly local population and the receptive welcome. Several local families offered to "adopt" Sailors for a day so that they could show them around the island and treat them to native Tahitian culture and food.
Sailors who volunteered for "adoption" were delighted by their experiences.
"Two amazing individuals opened their Tahitian-style home to us and had us spend the day on their private beach," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Shelby Feather, one of the Mustin volunteers. "We had a spectacular time, and I will talk about this experience for years to come!"
Besides providing rest and relaxation for Mustin's crew, the visit to Tahiti allowed the Sailors to interact with the native Tahitian and French residents and strengthen relations between their respective countries and navies.
"The visit to Tahiti was certainly a highlight of the deployment for the entire Mustin crew," said Cmdr. Michael J. Ford, Mustin's commanding officer. "The hospitality shown by our hosts was second to none, and we look forward to a return visit."
Mustin is completing a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf with the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group and is homeported in San Diego.
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