NEW YORK (NNS) -- The Algerian navy ship ANS Soummam (937) arrived in New York City for a 5-day port visit, marking the first time an Algerian navy ship has ever visited the United States, July 9.
Soummam transited the Atlantic Ocean as part of a training program for officer trainees from the Algerian Naval High School.
"I was very moved when I saw the ship in the port of New York," said Abdallah Baali, Algerian ambassador to the United States. "It is truly a historic moment for us in New York and certainly for the crew and officers of the ship who came to the prestigious city of New York."
The visit by Soummam displays the increasing cooperation between the United States and Algerian navies. Earlier this year, Algeria hosted the combined maritime operations center in Oran during Exercise Phoenix Express.
"The great thing about a country's navy is that a naval ship can be used for multiple purposes," said Capt. Andy Lennon, the lead coordinator for the visit assigned to U.S. 6th Fleet headquarters. "It can be used in war and equally it can be used for diplomacy."
While the training mission is designed to instruct students on navigating the world's oceans, the port visit is also part of their training.
According to Baali, a cultural and sports program was developed to give the officer-trainees an opportunity to conduct exchanges with the U.S. Navy in order to better acquaint themselves with one of the world's largest navies and learn about its different services.
The cultural program for the Algerian sailors included tours to various sites throughout the city, such as the United Nations, the Bronx Zoo and the 9/11 Memorial.
"We have all been very excited to visit New York," said Algerian Capt. Mamia Mouzaoi. "It is a great opportunity to visit America, and the people have been very welcoming."
Showing their appreciation for the hospitality, Soummam also hosted a reception aboard the ship, allowing for greater interaction between the crew, U.S. Navy, and government officials.
"We are happy to have the Algerians here," said Terrence Holliday, New York City's Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs commissioner. "New York is a great city with a warm heart and a lot to see. We appreciate everything they bring here to make this city richer."
Throughout their visit, local U.S. Navy Sailors from Navy Operation Support Center New York City and Naval Weapons Station Earle New Jersey have been readily available to show the Soummam crew around the city.
"We have U.S. Navy Sailors travelling with them to all of the sites throughout the visit," said Lennon. "It allows us more opportunities to engage on a personal level, hopefully giving both nation's Sailors a richer experience."
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For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.