Brunei Visit Offers Momsen Sailors Cross-cultural Experiences

Story Number: NNS080425-21Release Date: 4/25/2008 12:53:00 PM
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By Lt.j.g. Courtney Thraen, USS Momsen Public Affairs

MUARA HARBOR, Brunei (NNS) -- USS Momsen (DDG 92) departed Muara Harbor, Brunei, April 20, after the crew spent three days exploring its culture by engaging in several recreational activities and community relations projects.

This port visit granted Momsen Sailors an opportunity to not only represent the U.S. Navy, but also represent the United States during the cross-cultural experience.

During the port visit, Momsen participated in a community initiative called "Project Handclasp" with a government primary school, Sekolah Rendah SUAS (Sultan Umar Ali Saifuddin). Eighteen Momsen Sailors contributed toys, books and other learning materials to the school. In return, the Sailors were treated to a tour of the school, a ceremonial tree planting, launching of the new science and computer laboratories and sampling of several traditional delicacies. The students also demonstrated several academic lessons in math, science and reading.

The school's headmaster, Pengiran Osman bin Pengiran Karim said Momsen's contributions would complement the school's reading programs.

"In the school's effort to create a reading culture, there are a variety of initiatives that have been undertaken by the school," the headmaster said.

Momsen's commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael C. Sparks, paid a courtesy call to the Royal Brunei Navy's acting commander, Col. Abdul Halim Mohd Hanifah on April 18.

Momsen then provided ship tours to Hanifah and nearly 150 Brunei residents. One highlight was a visit by the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei, Emil Skodon and his wife, which was covered by several Brunei media representatives.

Other groups touring Momsen included the Ministry of Defense, U.S. Embassy staff and family members, Sekolah Rendah SUAS students and family, and the Boy's Brigade.

This interaction with the people of Brunei was most welcomed, Sparks said.

"Enjoying the culture of different nations is one of the best things about being a Sailor, being able to enjoy that experience and give back a little is very rewarding," Sparks said. "This port visit underlines the United States' desire to interact with foreign nations by promoting regional cooperation."

In addition, Momsen participated in a thrilling softball game sponsored by the local Brunei softball team, the Gunners. The game drew a captive audience who enjoyed watching the difference in softball throwing techniques. Although the Gunners beat Momsen at a fast-pitch game, Momsen won the slow-pitch softball game. Following the game, congratulations were exchanged.

Meanwhile, the rest of Momsen's crew was engaged in several tour packages, including the popular wilderness adventure tour, day and night city tours, and mosque tours along with shopping in the expansive Gadong markets.

Momsen, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, is homeported in Everett, Wash. The Momsen is currently underway as part of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group's deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to support maritime security operations.

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