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USS Fitzgerald Arrives in Qingdao, China

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew R. White, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

QINGDAO, People’s Republic of China (NNS) -- The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) arrived in Qingdao, People's Republic of China, April 19, for a scheduled port visit and to take part in the 2009 International Fleet Review.

The International Fleet Review is in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy. More than 20 nations are expected to send approximately 40 warships to take part in the event.

During their visit, Fitzgerald Sailors will engage in professional exchanges with their PLAN counterparts, explore the port city of Qingdao, take part in sporting events with PLAN sailors, as well as meet sailors from navies around the world.

"Military to military interactions between the U.S. and China are important to the collective security and prosperity of the entire Pacific Region," said Cmdr. Richard Dromerhauser, commanding officer, USS Fitzgerald. "Visits such as this provide the opportunity to enhance cooperation, foster mutual understanding, and further develop lines of communication."

Fitzgerald's crew will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with sailors from many nations.

"All Sailors share a common bond that transcends language, cultural backgrounds, and nationality," Dromerhauser said. "The fleet review, through professional and social events, provides critical interaction between multinational mariners." For some Fitzgerald Sailors, this will be their first visit to a foreign port.

Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice Leon Williams, from Arlington, Va., has been aboard Fitzgerald for only a few months and is looking forward to visiting China for the first time.

"I feel like it's a big accomplishment just to make it here," Williams said. "I'm excited to explore the culture and interact with the people."

The U.S. 7th Fleet Band will join Fitzgerald Sailors in building relationships with the countries taking part in the fleet review by performing at several functions in Qingdao.

"It's great that a band can support international relationships and tie the countries together through music," said Musician 3rd Class Drew Williams, of Chicago.

While Fitzgerald's visit to China will focus on building military relationships with the navies in attendance, Dromerhauser also recognizes the rare opportunity to build relationships with the people of Qingdao.

"We have the added opportunity to make new friends with the citizens of Qingdao as we learn more about the historic and cultural attractions of this beautiful city," he said.

Fitzgerald is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and operates as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan. The U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. Fleets, with approximately 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft, and 40,000 Sailors and Marines assigned to it at any given time.

Story Number: NNS090420-08 Release Date: 4/20/2009 9:17:00 AM

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