SAN DIEGO – The officers and crew of USS Russell (DDG 59) played a key role in supporting one of three People’s Liberation Army (Navy) ships visiting San Diego by hosting the crew of the frigate CNS Yueyang (FF 575), Aug. 10-14.
Along with Yueyang, the destroyer CNS Haikou (DD 171) and supply ship CNS Qiandaohu (AO 886) were the first Chinese Navy ships to visit San Diego in nearly a decade.
As one of three host ships, Russell was a critical piece in the agenda of the key diplomatic visit, providing manpower and logistical support to the guests. Rear Admiral Patrick J. Lorge, Commander, Navy Region Southwest, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, and several distinguished guests attended a welcoming ceremony held Aug. 10.
Other key events included reciprocal ship tours as well as intramural sports. The tours were a fascinating experience for American and Chinese sailors alike.
“The best part was seeing how different their daily routines are and how different their ships look,” said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Adam H. Roter of Rancho Palos Verdes, California. “There were many neon light-up photographs on the passageway walls as well as the smell of Chinese cooking throughout the ship.”
Russell Sailors provided the Chinese Sailors a tour through various areas including the central control station, medical facilities, the mess decks, galley, a repair locker, the ship’s store, one of the crew berthings, the wardroom, and pilot house. Russell Sailors in turn visited the bridge, conference room, torpedo deck, and foc’sle of the Chinese frigate.
Intramural sports were a resounding success. Teams were mixed with Chinese and American Sailors in the spirit of cooperation instead of competition. The Sailors engaged in bouts of basketball, table tennis, beach volleyball and soccer.
The sports matches were capped with a binational barbeque for which Russell provided hamburgers and hot dogs, and the Chinese brought octopus, ribs, and eggplant.
“The best part was knowing that you’re part of something that may never happen again,” said Fire Controlman 1stClass Richard J. Naber, who hails from a small town in Illinois. “For that hour or two of playing table tennis we were just Sailors coming together from far apart lands to have a good time.”
Russell’s leadership said they viewed the visit as a resounding success.
“It was an honor to be part of history by hosting the Chinese,” said Cmdr. James Harney, Russell’s commanding officer. “I am incredibly proud of my crew and the positive face of the United States Navy that they displayed.”
The visit supported the mission statement of fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships with an expanding set of allies and international partners to enhance global security contained in Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s “Sailing Directions.”
Russell is assigned as part of Destroyer Squadron 1.