RHODES, Greece (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Nashville (LPD 13) visited Rhodes, April 21-25 after completing their participation in Phoenix Express 2008 (PE 08), the third annual maritime exercise devoted to improving regional cooperation and maritime security in the Mediterranean Sea.
Nashville Sailors enjoyed four days of liberty in the historic Greek city, taking part in Nashville's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tours along the way.
"We had 63 people participate in the 'All Day Island' tour, which took them around the island to view medieval ruins of ancient Greece," said Nashville MWR coordinator Laura Thornton. "The tours offered Sailors an opportunity to explore the rich history and culture of the island of Rhodes, as well as meet with local vendors and merchants."
For Aviation Support Technician 3rd Class Joshua St. Lawrence, the island tour provided an opportunity learn more about Greece than what typical liberty provides.
"The island tour really showed me a side of Greece that I wouldn't have know about," he said. "There was a lot of good photos to take, and we all had a good time learning about some of the history of the country."
But it was not all about traditional liberty for Nashville Sailors in Rhodes, as several also took the time to help the local community with their participation in a community relations project set up by the Nashville Chaplain's Office.
On April 23, Lt. Edward D. Bass, Nashville's chaplain, led 14 Sailors in projects at the Kekylamea Treatment Center, touring the facility and spending time with patients, mostly children. At the end of the visit, they gave gifts and small tokens of appreciation to the patients and staff.
The Kekylamea Treatment Center is a government health care facility for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. It offers a full range of therapies for downs syndrome and autistic patients, as well as a day treatment program for disabled citizens.
"I believe our Sailors received as much of a blessing as they gave," Bass said. "The disabled citizens we visited really brightened up when we walked through their door to just spend time with them and then we left them some small gifts, tokens of our friendship."
Nashville is a part of the Nassau Strike Group currently operating in the 6th Fleet area of operation in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
For more news from Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/esg8/.