USS RONALD REAGAN (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 left a lasting impression on the local citizens as the ship departed Brisbane, Australia, Jan. 27 following a five-day port visit.
More than 6,000 Sailors assigned to the Reagan Strike Group visited the city of Brisbane to take part in friendship-building and good-will generating activities. The visit was the first time a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ever berthed pierside in the city.
American Sailors also took part in a total of seven community service projects for the residents of Australia. These events included volunteering at the local children's and women's hospitals, working to help restore an Australian World War II frigate at the Queensland Maritime Museum, cleaning the koala exhibition at the local zoo and helping clean up a training facility for emergency medical technicians.
According to Cmdr. Brent Scott, Reagan's chaplain, a total of 250 Sailors from the ship took part in the community relations projects around the city, as well as aboard the ship.
"The American Navy has a tradition that wherever we go in foreign port, we make a connection with the people there. We don't go and just take from the community, but that we give back," said Scott.
American Sailors were also fortunate to be in Brisbane during "Australia Day," a national holiday similar to the Fourth of July, celebrated Jan. 26.
In addition to the community service events and national holiday, Sailors visited the local tourist attractions and spent time in the downtown shopping district of Brisbane. Australian hospitality was on display throughout the city as banners and signs welcomed the American Sailors.
"I think MWR [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] did a great job finding a variety of tours that included something for everyone," said Machinery Repairman Fireman Brian Barr from Forest Hill, Calif. "I went deep sea fishing in Australia. I'm definitely coming back to Australia because of the great time I had."
Another popular attraction for the American Sailors was the local zoo that featured koala bears, kangaroos, snakes and other animals native to the continent. Zoo employees even brought several of their animals to the ship for Sailors who were on duty and couldn't get time off to visit in person.
"It was the most interactive zoo I've ever been to," said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Shady Davis of Big Bear, Calif. "There was a larger variety of animals than back in America. I went away educated."
Reagan is currently on her maiden Western Pacific deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime security operations.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.