VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. 7th Fleet praised the Russian Federation Navy for its proud history and called for additional efforts to build upon its friendship with the Russian Pacific Fleet May 8, the eve of Russia's Victory Day celebration.
Vice Adm. John M. Bird made the comments at a reception aboard the 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), which docked in Vladivostok May 7 to participate in Victory Day celebrations in the naval port city once closed to foreigners during the Soviet era.
"The U.S. and Russia have a growing friendship, and that is true with our two navies," said Bird. "We are both seagoing nations, and we share many common interests in the Pacific and around the world - including counter-proliferation, fighting terrorism and piracy, and maintaining freedom of the seas."
Bird's comments followed a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame Memorial, a commemorative ceremony during Russia's Victory Day celebrations. In Russia, Victory Day marks the final surrender by Nazi Germany to the former U.S.S.R., often referred to in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.
U.S. Sailors from the 7th Fleet staff and Blue Ridge also marched in a Victory Day parade May 9, which was televised nationally along with Victory Day celebrations in Moscow.
According to Russian Information Agency Novosti, this was the first year that troops from other countries that were allies of the Soviet Union during World War II were allowed to take part in the parade.
"It is particularly meaningful to visit Russia and Vladivostok on Victory Day - a celebration that marks the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, in which U.S. and Russian military forces proudly fought for the same cause," said Bird.
Bird also met with Russian Pacific Fleet commander Vice Adm. Konstantin Sidenko, while several 7th Fleet staff members conducted talks with their Russian Federation Navy counterparts.
"We share many special bonds," said Bird. "Vice Adm. Sidenko and his team have proven themselves to be a professional and highly competent navy as evidenced by their great victory recently against pirates in the Indian Ocean."
Vladivostok is home to the headquarters of the Russian Pacific Fleet. A Russian Federation Navy task force based in Vladivostok is currently deployed to the Gulf of Aden on a counterpiracy mission.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c7f/.