George Washington Carrier Strike Group Promotes Partnerships in 'The Pearl of the Orient'
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly J. Lesonik USS George Washington Public Affairs
HONG KONG, June 24, 2014 — The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG) departed Hong Kong, June 20, after a four-day, goodwill port visit.

The primary purpose of GWCSG's visit to the city, affectionately nicknamed "Pearl of the Orient," was to enhance the U.S. Navy's interoperability and theater security cooperation efforts with the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Navy, and Hong Kong officials through several engagements.

"We work two different partnerships when we come [to Hong Kong], one is the People's Liberation Army and Navy relationship and that has to do with mostly bilateral meetings as well as exposure to some of our naval operations," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. "The second is work with Hong Kong officials, and in that case, we worked with their explosive ordnance disposal team to share best practices and lessons learned. We were able to discuss our commitment to our relations between our militaries and our desire for increased bilateral cooperation."

GWCSG Sailors also had the opportunity to interact with Hong Kong residents through participation in community relations (COMREL) projects, sporting events, Moral, Welfare and Recreational (MWR) tours, and attending a reception at the American Club Hong Kong.

"I love when U.S. ships come into the port because they are filled with fantastic Americans who interact with the citizens from Hong Kong who, in turn, share their experience with their families," said Clifford Hart, U.S. consul general to Hong Kong and Macau. "Their interactions are bigger than just the Navy. It promotes U.S. national security and helps to advance the range of U.S. policy."

George Washington Carrier Strike Group Sailors volunteered for 16 COMREL projects and sporting events where they interacted with Hong Kong participates from all age groups and shared their culture as they learned about Chinese culture.

"The best part of the COMREL events was to see how happy everyone was to have us there," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Desmond Stone, from Roanoke, Virginia. "Volunteering really allows us to connect with the locals and gives us a rare interaction with the community."

MWR offered numerous tours to Sailors like hiking, biking and cultural tours, as well as sporting events like rugby and soccer.

"I think Hong Kong is one of the best liberty ports in the 7th fleet," said Montgomery. "It provides exposure to one of the most interesting cultures and societies in Asia. It means a lot to us to visit a port and have this kind of friendship. I can't say enough how meaningful it is to us, as service members, to be treated so well by our friends here in Hong Kong."

The GWCSG includes USS George Washington (CVN 73) and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Shiloh (CG 67), and the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS Kidd (DDG 100). Together they provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
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