ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln Sailors experience their first port visit in the Middle East, May 23-27, during their current deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
One of the first stops was an Islamic Art Museum where Sailors viewed lavish carpet designs, as well as silver and gold collections from around the world. Some of the other sights included seeing a mosque and taking part in some shopping at gold and spice markets.
Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class (AW)Alfonso Navos, a tour participant, was first here in 2000. He said the city was still being developed then and wasn't as big as it is now.
"Eight years ago this place wasn't as big. It's mind boggling because things are changing," he said.
"Probably in another five years this place will look totally different from this time. I would like to come back here, just to shop, take more tours and enjoy the time."
Navos added that Sailors should take advantage of the reasonably priced Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR)tours the next time Lincoln has liberty.
Aviation Boastswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class (AW/SW)Matthew Jenkins was one Sailor who took advantage of the city tour. He said this was his first time experiencing a city in the Middle East and seeing Islamic culture for himself.
"It's my first time in here, first time in the Gulf and first time up close and personal with the culture itself," he said. "I'm just trying to take it all in."
The city tour was just one of many made possible through efforts not only by MWR, but by the United Service Organization, or USO.
"The USO has a very unique role compared to other USOs in the world because we provide other services besides the usual recreation," said Priya Butler, director of the local USO. "For every ship that comes in, we book all the hotels and golf, it's a very large operation, so normally we start preparing about two weeks out," said Butler.
"I think part of coming to a foreign country is that there's a little bit of a culture shock when you first get here and the USO really tries to make people feel comfortable and at home," he continued. "We have a large number of volunteers, most are from the United States that come out here and help integrate the Sailors into a foreign country."
This was Lincoln's second port visit during the ship's deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
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