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111127-N-ER662-301 WETAR STRAITS (Nov. 27, 2011) – A Sailor aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) raises the jack of the United States off the coast of Timor-Leste. Stethem is part of the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew R. Cole/Released)
USS Stethem Arrives in Timor Leste 
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew R. Cole, Amphibious Squadron 11 Public Affairs  
DILI, Timor Leste (Nov. 27, 2011) - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) arrived in Dili, Timor Leste Nov. 27, for a port visit during their tour of the Western Pacific.

The visit to Dili will provide Stethem Sailors an opportunity to participate in several cultural and professional exchanges with the Timor Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) counterparts and the local community.

“Our crew is excited to make a visit to Timor-Leste, and to meet the people of this great country,” said Cmdr. Michael “Brent” DeVore, commanding officer of Stethem. “The hospitality shown to us here is indicative of the strong and continuing friendship that exists between our two nations.”

The crew of Stethem and the F-FDTL will conduct training together so that they may have an opportunity to discuss and share ideas. As part of that training, the men and women of Stethem will conduct engineering and combat systems training.

This bilateral training between U.S. Sailors and the Timor Leste Defense Force is designed to increase interoperability, improve readiness and build upon professional and personal relationships between the two militaries. The port visit to Dili will place emphasis on the United States and Timor Leste common goals of mutual security and prosperity.

"This will give both militaries a chance to understand each other better as well as gain a better appreciation of each other's capabilities,” said Master Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Handler Trenton Schmidt, command master chief of Stethem. “It’s also a chance for the Sailors aboard Stethem to interact with the Timor Leste Defense Force and to learn more about each other."

The visit will also serve as an opportunity to further strengthen relationships between the U.S. Navy and the Timor-Leste Defense Force, as well as continuing the U.S. commitment to the advancement of partnerships with nations throughout the region.

During the visit, Stethem will host a distinguished visitor reception aboard, co-hosted by the U.S. ambassador to Timor Leste. The crew will also participate with the community in a friendly game of soccer.

“The port visit is just one small action that reflects our nation’s continued commitment to the Oceania Region. The Navy views this port visit as another excellent opportunity to increase our friendship with Timor Leste,” said DeVore.

For many of the Sailors aboard Stethem, this will be their first opportunity to visit Timor Leste.

"This is my first time visiting Dili, and I'm excited about it," said Chief Cryptologic Technician Technical Jeff S. Kuhlman. "I plan on participating in the soccer game and enjoying the local culture. I believe it’s always a good opportunity not just for myself but for the junior Sailors to experience a new country and see something different than what they know."

The Essex Expeditionary Strike Group consists of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, USS Essex (LHD 2) and Stethem, which report to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.
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