USS PEARL HARBOR, At Sea (NNS) -- Partnership of the Americas (POA) Task Group 40.0 departed Salvador, Brazil, April 20 after a port visit, during which each ship's crew participated in a variety of events ashore in support of POA 2007 deployment.
POA Task Group 40.0, commanded by Capt. Randy Snyder, commander Destroyer Squadron 40, consists of amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) and Chilean frigate CS Almirante Latorre (FFG 14).
The POA Task Group focuses on enhancing cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services throughout Latin America and the Caribbean through exercises and other events at sea and ashore.
Upon entering port, Mitscher hosted a luncheon for Snyder, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Clifford Sobel, and ships' commanding officers. After the luncheon, press representatives were able to ask questions of the group aboard Samuel B. Roberts and were given a tour of the ship.
Pearl Harbor hosted a reception, commemorating the significance of multinational cooperation. Pearl Harbor's commanding officer, Cmdr. Victor Cooper, welcomed Sailors from all commands and guests from Brazil to meet face to face and share experiences.
"It's an honor to have everyone here," Cooper said. "We work together during exercises, but when we share each other's company like this, we understand the mission of Partnership for Americas better. I think we were very well received here."
Many in attendance commented on the uniqueness of the event, in which Sailors from many countries had the opportunity to mingle and get to know about other nationalities working together during the upcoming exercises.
"It is good to see everyone enjoying themselves together. So much is accomplished during daily exercises, but the social interaction between the Sailors is a vital part of the mission of Partnership of the Americas," said Lt. Derek Hotchkiss, supply officer from Samuel B. Roberts.
Cooper also gave an inspirational talk at the beginning of a multinational soccer tournament hosted by the Brazilian Navy where U.S. Sailors competed with teams from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Spain. According to Cooper, everyone demonstrated good sportsmanship, cheering opposing teams on and chanting cadences together.
"The multinational sports challenge was a unique opportunity for us to experience playing against international talent," said Mitscher's team captain, Command Master Chief Loran Bather. "Our guys played hard. We got out-matched this time, but it was all in good spirits. After our match both teams took a picture as one, symbolizing the very reason we're here: the Partnership of the Americas."
"The most important thing to remember today is to have fun," said Cooper. "Win or lose, good times were had by all."
Pearl Harbor, Mitscher and Samuel B. Roberts offered tours to service members from local Brazilian, Argentinean and Spanish navies, and Brazilian youth groups. The children who came not only saw the ship, but also met some of the Sailors and enjoyed refreshments from the mess decks.
"The kids seemed really interested in how we work and live on board the ship," Interior Communications Specialist 3rd Class Arturo Villanueva said. "They were energetic and full of questions. It was fun showing them around and giving them cookies."
Overall the port visit was a tremendous success. Sailors aboard all the ships had the opportunity to sample local cuisine, tour historical sites, and shop in the many open-air markets, as well as interact with Sailors from other ships from around the world. Among the favorite places to visit were the local "churrascarias," the Brazilian-style steak houses.
In addition to sampling the local cuisine, Sailors took tours of historical cathedrals, many of which date back to the early 14th century. Elements of a traditional Portuguese, Spanish, and African influence can be seen in the architectural design of the city.
The purpose of this port visit was to support U.S. Southern Command's engagement strategy by conducting a variety of events ashore that enhance hemispheric stability, security and regional prosperity and, above all, build lasting relationships.
For more news from USS Pearl Harbor, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/lsd52/.