MOKPO, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) Sailors got a taste of Korean culture and a chance to interact with the people who live there during a port visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) port of Mokpo, March 22-26.
Paul Hamilton's visit to Mokpo marks the first time a U.S. Navy ship had visited there, but according to the Paul Hamilton's commanding officer, Cmdr. Chris Bushnell, it won't be the last.
"We're also looking at how the growing economy and the
waterfront of the city of Mokpo could potentially be a high-visit port for the Navy in the future," Bushnell said.
Mokpo afforded these Sailors an opportunity to participate in community relations events and a chance to experience the culture of the ROK.
As far as getting the Korean cultural experience, Sailors had the opportunity to take a tour of sites such as the Provincial Hall of Cholla Nam Do, the Gangjin Celadon Porcelain Museum and the headquarters of Adm. Lee Shun Shin, Korea's greatest naval hero.
For a community relations project, Paul Hamilton Sailors visited JaHye Nursing Home.
They spent the day interacting and assisting the residents by providing entertainment consisting of a magic show, karaoke and a classic Navy rendition of "Anchors Aweigh". In addition to that, the Sailors helped with the maintenance of the grounds by moving wood piles, completing yard work and performing other chores around the facility.
Then they ate lunch with the residents and spent time with them at the park. The day's events concluded with a presentation of a plaque and Paul Hamilton T-shirts to the residents there. The residents reciprocated by giving the Sailors a signed picture frame.
For Chief Petty Officer Martin Tamayo, his experience during this event was more than just community service.
"We were there not only to give a helping hand, but to learn about the Korean culture," said Tamayo. We all shared smiles together and we were welcomed with open arms. That makes all the difference."
The port visit was two-fold; not only did it provide the Sailors a glimpse of Mokpo daily life, but also the residents of Mokpo experienced life on a U.S. Navy destroyer. The ship opened its doors to more than 350 guests from the Korean Armed Forces, along with the employees of the local port authority, for tours of the multi-mission capable ship.
Bushnell described how proud it was for him to allow the local Koreans onboard the ship for tours.
"This ship is a very small piece of the United States, and we got to let them walk around and ask any question they want," said Bushnell. "They also got to talk to any Sailor they want, and since our ship is just like a very large city and a melting pot, there are Sailors from all over the United States stationed here."
Bushnell went on to discuss why this port visit was a success overall.
"The amount of support demonstrated by the local Mokpo
government and Korean Navy officials is a shining example of their resolve to enhance exercises and operations with the United States," Bushnell said.
Paul Hamilton, which is homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is currently deployed as part of the Ronald Regan Carrier Strike Group operating in the Western Pacific, and will continue working in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cnfk/.