DURRES, Albania (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) departed Durres, Albania, after completing a successful three-day port visit, June 6.
The port visit kicked off the start of a Partnership of Adriatic Mariners, which Mitscher is participating in along with personnel from the Albanian, Croatian and Montenegrin navies.
"It's a cooperation between the United States and countries in the Adriatic Sea designed to provide familiarization with our navy and theirs and the various things we can do to stabilize the maritime domain," said Cmdr. Brian Sorenson, Mitscher's commanding officer.
While in port, Mitscher Sailors sampled the local cuisine, shopped for gifts and souvenirs and participated in a Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored tour.
The tour took place in the city of Kruje; home to Albania's national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Participants visited the Skanderbeg Museum, as well as the National Ethnographic Museum. The tour wrapped up with a traditional Albanian feast and a trip to the local bazaar.
"The feedback was very positive," said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW) Kenny Carriel, president of Mitscher's chapter of MWR. "Everyone said they had a good time. The Albanian feast was definitely worth it. They just kept bringing out food. You'd finish eating and they would bring more."
Many Sailors headed to the capital, Tirana, to take advantage of its shops, restaurants and nightlife and mingle with local residents.
"We went out in town, walked around and explored. We were trying to see what Albania had to offer," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Zach Montanaro. "We found that a lot of people from the younger generations speak English well and you could carry on a good conversation."
Through conversation, Sailors learned that different cultures can still share similar values.
"They show great pride in their country, just like a lot of Americans and a lot of servicemembers do," said Montanaro. "It was a great experience."
"This was a fantastic opportunity for Mitscher," Sorenson said. "It was a port that was inexpensive and allowed our Sailors to travel and mix with the Albanian people. We all realized they were warm and welcoming. It was an opportunity for everybody on the crew to get a taste of a culture that's really phenomenal."
Mitscher is deployed as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. The strike group consists of Carrier Strike Group 2 staff, Carrier Air Wing 8, Destroyer Squadron 22 staff, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64), and USS Anzio (CG 68), guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and the Spanish navy frigate ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon (F102).
For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.