SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from USS Peleliu (LHA 5) left a positive impression on local citizens as the ship departed Singapore June 6 following a four-day port visit.
More than 2,500 Sailors and Marines visited the "Lion City" to take part in friendship-building and community relations (COMREL) activities, as well as enjoy the local culture while on liberty. This was the first foreign port visit for Peleliu, which left its homeport of San Diego, Calif., May 4 on a scheduled deployment.
While in Singapore, Peleliu Sailors and Marines volunteered for three COMREL projects that were coordinated by the ship's religious ministries department, with help from the religious ministries department at Commander, Logistics Western Pacific in Singapore.
On June 3, a group of 40 Sailors and Marines helped clean up a beach near the Sembawang Naval Base. The Sailors and Marines removed debris that had washed up on the shore.
"There was so much trash including clothing, styrofoam and other debris that had washed ashore," said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class (FMF) Fredrick Jones from Peleliu's Religious Ministries department. "It is very important to show we are ambassadors and contributing to the local community."
On June 4, a group of 20 Sailors and Marines also spent the day with children from Sunbeam Place, a local home for abused and neglected children. Volunteers took the children to the pool at the Sembawang Naval Base for a day of fun in the sun and good food.
"I don't mind spending two days off to help the community," said Hull Technician 2nd Class (SW) Joe McClain, who volunteered for both the beach cleanup project and the pool event. "It is a good thing. It is not just about the Navy-Marine Corps mission but the sense and feeling of accomplishment you receive for being selfless."
An additional 240 Sailors and Marines from Peleliu spent time with local families as part of the "Home Hospitality" program. The program allows Sailors and Marines to be matched with local families, many of which are Americans living in Singapore, for recreational and cultural exchange activities.
"For each Sailor I am sure the satisfaction is different; but I think by-in-large, knowing that their efforts, no matter how small or how large, have made a positive difference in someone else's life," said Lt. Kevin Norton, a chaplain aboard Peleliu who helped organized the COMREL projects for the ship.
"We had a great turn-out," added Norton. "I hope more volunteers come out to support and enjoy a chance to make a difference. It is extremely important that we build relations that are not just military in nature, but show our ability to assist in humanitarian efforts as well."
For more news from USS Peleliu/Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.