USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) departed Piraeus, Greece, March 31, following a scheduled three-day port visit.
While in Piraeus, Sailors from Enterprise and Vicksburg enjoyed liberty ashore, took tours of the major historical sites of Athens coordinated by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and took some time to sample the local cuisine and do some shopping.
Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Sailors and Marines also participated in several community relations (COMREL) projects, ranging from a basketball tournament with the Hellenic Naval Academy basketball team to visits to SOS Village, a home for underprivileged children, and a local medical clinic.
Vicksburg donated approximately 1,500 medical items to the clinic, ranging from adhesive bandages to cold wraps and other supplies, which Sailors and Marines then sorted through and packed into boxes, while others cleared space for more donations.
"It's important for our Sailors to participate in COMRELs because it gives them a chance to really experience the local culture, not just from the perspective of a tourist, but to see the real lives of the people of that country," said Lt. Cmdr. Henry Holcombe, a chaplain aboard Enterprise.
Enterprise personnel also played in a basketball tournament at the Hellenic Naval Academy, and visited SOS Village, a place for underprivileged children, to help clean up, do some landscaping, and sort donated items for distribution.
"When out and off the ship, it feels good to be able to give back to a community other than my own," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Sarah Coleman.
Many of those not participating in the COMRELs took advantage of a slate of trips arranged by MWR. MWR tours allowed Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Sailors and Marines to visit historical sites around Greece. One tour took service members to Mount Parnassus, home of the Sanctuary of Apollo and Omphalos, believed by ancient Greeks to be the center of the world.
Another tour brought Sailors to Corinth, home to the fountain of Pirene and the Bema. Other tours took Sailors to Cape Sounion, near the Aegean Sea and home to the Temple of Poseidon.
Most of the primary tours allowed service members to experience the rich, cultural heritage of the city of Athens, named for the goddess Athena. Tour routes took Sailors to the Parthenon, the Olympic Stadium, the Acropolis, the Theater of Herod Atticus, and the Theater of Dionysus.
"I chaperoned a tour that went around the historical sites of Athens, and I would volunteer to do it again," said Chief Electrician's Mate Bruscha Williams. "All the young Sailors aboard should take time to go on a tour because it's a great way to learn about the local culture, and maybe see some things they wouldn't come across if they were out exploring on their own."
Sailors and Marines also led tours aboard Enterprise for over 700 Hellenic military personnel (fire, police, and Embassy staff) and local residents. Tour routes allowed visitors a glimpse into life aboard the carrier while Sailors demonstrated the capabilities of various aircraft and equipment.
Enterprise and Vicksburg departed Piraeus to continue supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
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