USS Ingraham Visits Tahiti, French Polynesia
PAPEETE, Tahiti (NNS) -- The guided-missile frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61) made a scheduled port visit to Papeete, Tahiti, Sept. 24.
The visit marked the third time in five years that a U.S. Navy ship has visited French Polynesia.
The main purpose of Ingraham's visit was to increase theater security cooperation with the French Navy in the South Pacific and to facilitate good will engagement with the local population of Papeete.
While entering port, Sailors proudly manned the rails as the ship was greeted by a group of Polynesian entertainers that performed a cultural dance for the crew. Once moored, crew members were invited to join the dancers and received a warm welcome from an enthusiastic crowd of French naval officers and dignitaries.
On the evening of Sept. 26, Ingraham returned the hospitality by holding an evening reception on board the ship for the island's civilian and military leaders. Among those in attendance were Vice Adm. Michael Bird, commander, 7th Fleet, and Rear Adm. Jean-Louis Vichot, commander of French Polynesia Forces.
"We were really welcomed by the French Navy and local Tahitians," said Cmdr Matt Ovios, Ingraham's commanding officer. "It was our honor to return the hospitality and allowed us to cement the relationships that were developed during the port visit."
During Ingraham's stay, the French Navy hosted several events for the visiting Americans, including an extravagant cocktail reception at the residence of Vichot.
"The Admiral's (Vichot) reception was an amazing experience," said Electronic Technician 2nd class Jeremy Sutherland. "With gourmet food and wine in the Admiral's tropical estate, the reception provided the perfect atmosphere for both U.S. and French Sailors to interact with one another and learn about each other's culture."
In addition, Ingraham Sailors eagerly participated in island outdoor recreational activities over the course of the ship's three-day visit. Several events were offered to the Sailors, including a mountain safari excursion to the heights of the volcanic Tahitian mountains, a guided bus tour of Tahiti's major historical sites and a free Tahitian cultural show with international buffet.
Several Sailors also took part in the Adopt-a-Sailor Program, which allows local families to "adopt" a group of Sailors for the day and introduced them to the native Tahitian culture and local cuisine. All Sailors were delighted by their experience with this program.
"Alex (Tahitian host) and his family brought us in and really allowed us to see the true beauty of Tahiti, in a way that only a local could know," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Logan Hitchman, one of the Ingraham Sailors that took advantage of this opportunity. "The money you save and the people you meet make it a perfect liberty option!"
Ingraham is currently on a seven-month deployment in the Pacific Fleet and is homeported in Everett, Wash.