SUVA, Fiji (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77) became the first U.S. Navy ship in three years to visit the port city of Suva, Fiji, when the warship arrived July 20 for a two-day port visit.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer will return to its homeport in Pearl Harbor July 28, having completed a nearly seven-month deployment to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
O'Kane's arrival in Fiji coincided with the nation's
Supreme Court ruling for a return to a constitutional government, following a May 2000 military coup.
The local press heralded the visit by an American warship as a symbol of renewed democracy and economic growth to the people of Fiji.
"O'Kane's arrival to Fiji is an omen for better things to come," wrote Marcus Sigh of the Fiji Times. The Sailors received much press coverage, as the ship and crew appeared on the front page of the newspaper, the sport's page for the basketball game they played against Fiji's national team, and the national television news station.
During the visit, the crew welcomed more than 100 guests for a reception on the ship's flight deck. The guests, including ambassadors from the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and government officials from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, enjoyed local food, refreshments and a traditional dance performance by Fijian dancers.
After the reception, crew members conducted tours of the ship.
"The local police in my tour group were awestruck by the capabilities of this ship," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SW) Robert C. Tyrus, after his group visited the ship's combat information center.
Those who toured the ship expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to tour the destroyer and learn about life at sea.
"I really enjoyed the tour," said Ammon Peter, an intern at the U.S. Embassy. "It made me appreciate Sailors, because I don't think I can live in such a confined space."
O'Kane is equipped with the Navy's modern Aegis combat weapons system, which combines space-age communication, radar and weapons technologies in a single platform for unlimited flexibility. These versatile ships are designed to operate independently or in support of aircraft carrier and amphibious operations.
Named for Adm. Richard H. O'Kane, the guided-missile destroyer was commissioned Oct. 23, 1999. Adm. O'Kane was awarded the Medal of Honor for his daring attacks on two Japanese convoys while in command of the World War II submarine USS Tang (SS 306) in 1944. After his submarine was sunk, the Japanese captured then-Cmdr. O'Kane, who spent the rest of the war in captivity.
For more information on USS O'Kane, visit the ship's Web site at www.o-kane.navy.mil.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.