HONG KONG (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit pulled anchor and departed Hong Kong after completing a five-day port visit, March 25.
During the rain-soaked visit, Boxer's first port call since departing San Diego Feb. 12, service members participated in 14 Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours and five cultural and subject-matter expert exchanges.
"The Boxer crew, Amphibious Squadron 1 and 13th MEU did a great job while enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation in one of the most beautiful cities in Asia," said Boxer Commanding Officer Capt. Mike Ruth.
While in Hong Kong, Boxer's religious ministries department arranged several cultural exchange events, which allowed Sailors and Marines to interact with local people and exchange information about customs and lifestyles.
"The main goal for cultural exchange events in a foreign port is to successfully create a lasting bond and relationship between us and the host nation," said Chief Religious Programs Specialist Joseph Stroney, Boxer Religious Ministries department leading chief petty officer. "This is done simply by being willing to learn and accept their culture while at the same time sharing our culture with them."
According to Cmdr. Charles Hodges, command chaplain aboard Boxer, the exchanges were designed to positively reinforce the partnership and fellowship among participants.
"People experience a sense of satisfaction that is not found elsewhere, and they broaden their horizons," said Hodges. "While liberty is good, these events are a great way to relieve the stress of deployment."
At another highly anticipated event, team Boxer pulled off a narrow 4-2 victory over the Hong Kong Police Department (HKPD) team during a soccer match between Boxer crew members and the HKPD officers.
"Boxer's very own soccer team, played a well rounded match, despite a muddy and unconventional pitch, filled with water from goal to goal," said Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Doug Bedford, the ship's goalkeeper. "I can't wait to see how we fare in the matches in future ports!"
With the Hong Kong port visit complete, the crew now shifts focus to the upcoming mission.
"Their focus should be on readiness," said Ruth. "Equipment readiness, personnel readiness and tactical readiness."
The Boxer ARG-13th MEU team is currently on a regularly-scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
Boxer is the flagship of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which consists of Boxer, USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.