USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- The Navy's newest Wasp-Class amphibious assault ship, USS Makin Island (LHD 8), spent four days in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, using the time to interact with Brazilian military members and enjoy some liberty in one of South America's most famous cities Aug. 12.
"Our visit was a great experience for the crew since many of our 1,000-plus Sailors have never left the United States," said Commanding Officer Capt. Bob Kopas. "It was a chance for them to see and interact with a different culture so that we can better work together in the future."
The highlight of the visit was a reception hosted on board Makin Island with more than 200 people gathering in the ship's hangar bay. Among the guests were officers from Brazil's Navy and Marine Corps, who spent most of the evening speaking with officers and Sailors and getting personal tours of Makin Island.
"The personal and professional interaction between the U.S. and Brazil was deep and meaningful," said Cmdr. Tim McGarvey, assistant naval attaché assigned to Rio de Janeiro. "The Brazilians were very impressed with the state-of-the-art medical facilities."
After more than three weeks at sea, liberty call was another opportunity for the crew to meet some local nationals and get a taste of life south of the equator.
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Shelli Terrell, a native of Mount Pleasant, Texas, took advantage of three tours the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department offered while the ship was in the Port of Rio.
"My favorite tour was the rafting and Terra Verde Farm. I got to travel 45 minutes north of the city to do something that I had never done before," said Terrell.
"They served us great food, [and] I had a great time."
Makin Island's next port call is scheduled to be in Valparaiso, Chile, where the ship will meet with more South American military and civilian representatives, take advantage of another unique port call and add a handful of community relations and humanitarian aid projects to its schedule of events.
During its current two-month deployment, Makin Island will also make a port call in Lima, Peru as the ship sails to California via the Strait of Magellan. Makin Island is scheduled to be commissioned in San Diego Oct. 24.
For more news from USS Makin Island, visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.