BELFAST, United Kingdom (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG), and the embarked detachment of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 arrived in Belfast, U.K., Dec.15, 2016 for a scheduled port visit to enhance the United States' and United Kingdom's relations as the two nations work together for a stable, secure and prosperous Europe.
Mason's visit marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of Base One Europe Londonderry, the first and largest U.S. Navy base in the European theater during WWII.
A wide range of events and receptions has also been organized by Mary Pat Kelly, author of "Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS Mason (1995) and director of the film "Proud" (2004) to commemorate USS Mason's (DE 529) visit to Derry and Northern Ireland.
Mason's presence in the North Atlantic is a demonstration of the U.S. Navy's continued commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the collective security of the European region.
"The entire crew is very excited to be visiting Belfast. The U.S. enjoys a wonderful friendship with Northern Ireland and the UK, and Mason itself has a rich heritage with Belfast and Derry. We are looking forward to a relaxing and enjoyable visit before returning to our operational schedule."
- Cmdr. Christopher J. Gilbertson, from Minneapolis, commanding officer , USS Mason
"I'm looking forward to this port visit because of what it means to me and the Navy. This is my first time vising the U.K., and I'm excited to experience all this history and culture. It's also an honor to have the chance to participate and celebrate the history of USS Mason (DE 529) with Derry and all of Northern Ireland."
- Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Khabbaz, from Orange, Calif., works as a boatswain's mate
"A strong maritime presence has never been more important to maintaining the flow of commerce and the freedom of the seas."
- Lt. j.g. James Sightler, from Greer, S.C., navigator of USS Mason (DDG 87)
* Mason will be presented with the 2016 Paddy Hone Award by 1998 Nobel Laureate John Hume during a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the opening of Base One Europe, the largest Navy and Marine Corps base in the Atlantic during WWII, as well as to commemorate the 1943 visit of USS Mason (DE 529), the first all African-American crewed ship of the U.S. Navy, to the Londonderry and Belfast areas.
* Strengthening partnerships during the port visit to the United Kingdom demonstrates the shared commitment we have to promote safety and stability within the region, while seeking opportunities to enhance our interoperability with allies like the U.K.
* Mason departed Norfolk, Virginia, June 1, 2016, as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group
* Ike CSG includes the CSG-10 staff, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 staff, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, the guided-missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and USS Monterey (CG 61), and the DESRON 26 ships: guided-missile destroyers USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and USS Nitze (DDG 94).
* U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.
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