USS ROSS, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors from the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) enjoyed a three-day port visit to Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 3-6.
The busy port visit included a formal reception for Turkish military and civilian leaders, shipboard tours, community relations projects and plenty of opportunities for crew members to experience the local culture.
"Having a U.S. Navy ship in Istanbul signifies the continued importance of U.S.-Turkish relations," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Stanley Clarke, the senior American military attache in Turkey. "I would like to thank the USS Ross for hosting a wonderful reception, and I hope the crew enjoys all that Istanbul has to offer."
Twenty-five Turkish students from a local high school visited the ship to learn about day-to-day life for crew members during a community outreach tour held on board the destroyer.
"I cannot believe this ship makes over 750 meals a day -that is more than most restaurants," said Melis Gunis, a student.
Although the students appreciated the opportunity to learn about the capabilities and amenities on board the American warship, the U.S. Sailors were equally appreciative of the hospitality of their host country and the chance to sightsee and experience the local culture.
One of the most popular Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours was a shopping trip to the Grand Bazaar. Tour participants were amazed by the traditional bazaar, which features more than 4,000 vendors and attracts more than 250,000 visitors a day.
"It was like Grand Central Station during rush hour," said Quartermaster 2nd Class Horace Smith, from Brooklyn, N.Y., who was impressed by the variety of goods that were offered.
In addition to the excellent shopping, crew members were excited about trying the local cuisine and regional specialties, such as Turkish coffee, kebabs, Turkish delight and baklava.
"When they brought me the baklava, I was unsure if I was going to enjoy it," stated Quartermaster 3rd Class Karia Powe, from Mobile, Ala. "The baklava was great! I wish I had just ordered dessert instead of a whole meal."
Many of the crew members agreed that the port visit was one of their favorites of the deployment.
"Istanbul is a magnificent city with so much to offer," said Sonar Technician Guided 2nd Class Michael Ross, of Richmond, Va. "I just wish I had more time to see everything."
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