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From USS Stethem Public Affairs

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), departed the port city of Vladivostok after a five-day visit beginning July 1.

Stethem Sailors participated in a variety of events that included sports, community service projects (COMREL), and guided tours. Stethem Sailors also participated in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the sacrifices of the Russian people during World War II. Twenty-four crew members were involved in the event as well as members from the Russian Navy Band, Color Guard, and the Stethem host ship, Admiral Vinogradov (DDG 527). Two Stethem Sailors placed the wreath at the base of the Vladivostok World War II memorial.

"This was a great experience," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Andre Sutherland, one of the wreath-bearers. Not only do we get to foster our relationship with the Russian Navy, but we get to honor the actions of our allies during World War II."

Sailors also had an opportunity to tour Russian ship Vinogradov, a Udaloy-class destroyer. The tour was a unique opportunity to see how the Russian Navy operates. Questions and discussions during the tour revolved around the growing friendship between the United States and Russia as well as shipboard life.

"These events enable us to expand our friendship with the Russian Navy though personal contact," said Byrne. "We need to continue these efforts to ensure we keep the lines of communication open as we focus on security in the shared maritime environment."

Not all of the time spent in Russia revolved around COMREL events and tours, many Sailors participated in track and field events, basketball, soccer, and dragon boat racing.

Stethem fielded teams for each of the planned events and although Stethem did not bring home any first place trophies, they did show enormous spirit and ambassadorship during competition.

"Nothing brings people together like sports", said Master at Arms 1st Class Tavares Liggons. "It bonds teams and competitors and encourages camaraderie."

Stethem is named in honor of Petty Officer Robert Stethem, killed by terrorists who hijacked TWA Flight 847 in 1985. Petty Officer Stethem was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for the heroism he displayed that day. Stethem is part of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

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