VALPARAISO, Chile (NNS) -- The future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) departed Valparaiso, Chile after a scheduled three-day port visit, Aug. 27.
This was the crew's fourth stop on the ship's maiden transit, "America Visits the Americas" from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to its homeport of San Diego. Since the ship departed, the crew has also made port visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and hosted distinguished guests from Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay on board.
While in Chile, the ship hosted a reception in the ship's hangar bay for more than 300 guests.
Distinguished guests included U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Michael Hammer; Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.; and numerous senior Chilean, U.S. government and military officials.
"Chile is a great Pacific nation. The United States is a great Pacific nation. It is imperative that we work together to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the Pacific," said Harris.
Rear Adm. Frank L. Ponds, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, embarked on board America, said the ship's visit emphasizes the longstanding relationship between the two nations and helps build the interoperability that will have impact on both regional and global issues.
"This reinforces not just the military relationships, but relationships between our governments and with our Sailors and Marines that have families and friends here in the South American region; and I believe we will have made a lot of new friends during our visit," said Ponds.
America's Commanding Office, Capt. Robert A. Hall Jr., said that exchanging lessons, learned and procedures with partner nations, such as Chile, strengthens important partnerships.
"This ship has great capability in wartime, but it's our peacetime mission that we've really been stressing as we transit around South America," said Hall.
During the three-day port visit, the crew provided guided tours of the ship to nearly 500 people from the local community including U.S. Embassy families, members of the Chilean military and students. The crew was also able to experience their host nation and serve as goodwill ambassadors through sporting events with Chilean soccer and rugby teams, and through participation in a community relations event at Arturo Prat Childrens' Home.
"It was nice to experience Chilean culture and eat some of the fine cuisine, and see some of the sites," said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Eric King, assigned to America. "This was a short tour, but I plan on taking some leave later and coming back to visit South America."
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command / U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. Marine Forces South support U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
America is the first ship of its class, replacing the Tawara-class of amphibious assault ships. As the next generation "big-deck" amphibious ship, America is optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The ship is scheduled to be ceremoniously commissioned Oct. 11 in San Francisco.