SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- USS Juneau (LPD 10) wrapped up its fall patrol Nov. 25, returning to Sasebo after making a port visit to Zhanjiang, People's Republic of China and completing Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) FY 07 in the Republic of Philippines just before that.
Throughout the two-month underway period, Juneau also completed a number of shipboard training evolutions while donating supplies and service to a Philippine school. At the conclusion of the patrol, the ship hosted a "Tiger Cruise" for family and friends of Juneau.
"I am very proud of this crew for its efforts and perseverance in completing each and every mission," said Juneau Commanding Officer, Capt. John D. Alexander. "What these Sailors were able to do in terms of bilateral relations was amazing. I can confidently say that through their actions we have taken enormous steps to enhance peace and stability in the region."
Following PHIBLEX, Juneau was able to visit Zhanjiang and then participate in a milestone joint exercise, Search and Rescue exercise (SAREX), with the People's Liberation Army (Navy) (PLA(N)).
Joined by USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and the Chinese guided missile destroyer Zhanjiang (DD 165), Juneau coordinated surface and air assets to locate and provide aid to a participating Chinese ship simulating an at-sea casualty. The exercise was a resounding success and was a great step forward in building security in Asia through mutual cooperation, said Alexander and other leaders.
Upon successful completion of the SAREX and an exchange of honors at sea between Juneau and PLA(N), Juneau bid farewell to China and her PLA(N) escorts to return to Okinawa and offload the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
On the way to back to its forward-deployed home of Sasebo, the crew of Juneau took the time to ceremoniously send off to the most experienced mariners onboard. Chief Warrant Officer Max Eilers, Juneau's Boatswain, concluded his 33 years of service the same way he spent it- at sea. Through gifts, presentations and speeches, the crew of Juneau conveyed their heartfelt thanks and appreciation for his many years of service and all Eilers has done for his ship in the last year.
Eilers took the opportunity to reflect on the improvements he has seen throughout his time in the Navy and in his brief time aboard Juneau.
"[While he may not be perfect, I] kick on perfect's back door most everyday," Eilers said. He added that he thinks everyone aboard should aim for perfection in everything they do.
The end-of-patrol Tiger Cruise provided family and friends with an at-sea view of Navy life. While underway, the Tigers were treated to numerous events demonstrating Juneau's capabilities; Tigers witnessed a Landing Craft Utility (LCU) recovery, CIWS PACFIRE, .50-caliber Browning machine gun shoot, and an M242 Bushmaster 25mm chain gun shoot.
Juneau family members welcomed the ship's crew back with open arms at the pier in Sasebo and an informal "welcome home" reunion was held on the ship's flight deck.
"I think the end of the fall patrol, with the emphasis on family, was an important thing for this crew," said Alexander. "Because they are the ones that keep us going and provide us the support at home when we are deployed."
Alexander made some concluding thoughts to the crew before opening up the brow.
"Get some rest Juneau Warriors. You deserve it," he said.
Juneau is part of the Sasebo, Japan-based Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which serves under Commander, Task Force 76. Task Force 76 is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
For related news, visit the Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/ctf76/.