NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors participating in FRUKUS 2011 competed in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored "Thank Goodness It's Fitness (TGIF) Challenge" aboard Naval Station Norfolk, Va., June 24.
FRUKUS 2011, scheduled for June 20 through July 1 in Norfolk, Va., is an invitational exercise designed to enhance communication and interoperability between the navies of France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Fitness Challenge gave the sailors a chance to compete against each other in athletic events including relay races, an obstacle course and tug-of-war. Points were awarded not only for performance, but also for appearance with costumes and props, crowd response, command participation, sportsmanship and teamwork.
Quarter Master Seaman Donald Oflutt, a member of a team from Naval Station Norfolk Port Operations, said he was impressed by the motivation shown by participating partner nation teams.
"I think it's cool that our partners could come in and have a good time. We work together, eat together, and play together," said Oflutt.
The first week of FRUKUS 2011 covered many events, including firefighting and bridge resource management, all aimed at building teamwork among the partner nations. Although the fitness challenge was a chance to compete, it maintained the partnership theme.
"I really enjoyed the international cooperation of FRUKUS," said Senior Petty Officer Andrey Kuntzov, of RFS Admiral Chabanenko (DD 650) from Russia. "But the spirit of competition and being able to have fun, made today the most memorable day of the week."
Most of the FRUKUS events focus on seamanship skills and international cooperation in a maritime environment, but sailors also enjoyed the chance to work on relationship building in a less formal setting.
"It is very interesting to work with the other countries," said Master Chief Loic Mallet, assigned to FS Ventose (F 733) from France. "This fitness challenge is a fun way to meet our partners."
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chris V. Phan, assigned to the Naval Station Norfolk Navy Legal Service Office, said the competition was a fun way to get to know his maritime partners in a more relaxed environment.
"I think this is wonderful," said Phan. "I was fortunate enough to learn a little Russian and share in the camaraderie of the whole event."
The event concluded with a barbecue and a live concert following an awards ceremony for the participants.
The second phase of FRUKUS 2011 begins next week with the ships getting underway to participate in various training events centered on maritime domain awareness, anti-piracy and maritime interdiction operations.
Participating forces from the U.S. Navy include Commander Carrier Strike Group 10, Destroyer Squadron 26, and USS James E. Williams (DDG 95). International participants include the FS Ventose (F 733) from France, RFS Admiral Chabanenko (DD 650) from Russia and HMS Dauntless (D 33) from the United Kingdom.
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