PORTLAND, Ore (NNS) -- Sailors on guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Russell (DDG 59) and mine countermeasure ship USS Champion (MCM 4) departed the Portland Tom McCall waterfront park closing out Portland Rose Festival Fleet Week June 13.
The community outreach port visit coincided with the 109th annual Portland Rose Festival and included the three U.S. 3rd Fleet ships along with four U.S. Coast Guard, two Royal Canadian Navy vessels and three historic ships.
"I have never been to a Portland Fleet Week," said Seaman Michael Collens assigned to Howard. "Everyone has been so hospitable. The people of Portland were gracious hosts."
The Portland visit gave the public a chance to not only take a tour of the ships, but meet Sailors and see them showcase the ships' capabilities. It also gave attendees a chance to gain a better understanding of how the sea services support the national defense of the United States and freedom of the seas.
"Getting the opportunity to tour the ships was awesome," said Jessica Martinez, a festival attendee. "You can't help but notice the hard work the Sailors put in every day."
Many events of fleet week intertwine with the Portland Rose Festival including the Grand Floral Parade and knighting ceremony.
"Portland certainly has a rich heritage here and it was an honor being knighted," said Capt. Jeremy R. Hill, a Star Prairie, Wisconsin, native and prospective commanding officer of USS Portland (LPD 27). "Portland residents are absolutely one of the leaders in appreciating our Sailors."
Representatives from the Navy also hosted an energy and environmental exhibit June 10 through 12. The exhibit displayed the Navy's wildlife conservation, marine mammal research efforts, solar and wind energy projects, biofuel testing and other programs that help safeguard the environment and enhance energy use.
"It was an eye opening experience," said Dan Berks, a festival attendee. "I have always been aware of the Navy's presence, but I had no idea there were so many initiatives in place to protect the planet and develop alternate fuels."
Visitors collected promotional keep sakes and other educational materials. The Navy's environmental turtle mascot, Stewie was onsite to entertain families and provide photo opportunities.
"It was great to have a chance to see new a place and meet great people," Collens added. "The support from the community has been awesome. So many people have come up to me and said 'Thank you for your service.' It made me feel honored and humbled. The support I felt was overwhelming."
Navy warships have been coming to the City of Roses since USS Charleston's visit in 1907.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.
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For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.