MELBOURNE, Australia (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) departed Melbourne, Australia, Sept. 3, concluding a scheduled six-day port visit.
Melbourne is Bonhomme Richard's third Australian port visit during the current routine deployment as part of the U.S. - Australian biennial, bilateral exercise Talisman Saber 2017 (TS17), following visits to Sydney and Brisbane.
"The people of Australia, military and civilian, have made us feel welcome throughout the entirety of this deployment in every port we entered", said Capt. Larry McCullen, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard. "We will always cherish the relationships that we have established and the bonds that have been strengthened during our time here in Australia. It has been a truly positive experience working with one of our greatest and long-standing allies."
While visiting Melbourne, Bonhomme Richard Sailors and Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) had the chance to experience the local area through tours organized by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), as well as volunteer their time through command-organized community relations (COMREL) projects.
One Sailor, Air Traffic Controller 3rd Class Eddie Garcia said he explored the local scenery of Philip Island through an MWR tour that included a visit to a wildlife park, a local chocolate factory and an up-close viewing of the daily Philip Island Penguin Parade, in which hundreds of little penguins emerged from the sea after sunset to find their shelters along the coastline.
"It was a fun, very entertaining and well-planned tour," said Garcia. "The people of Australia were very friendly and very interactive. The ship might not be back any time soon, but I sure will. Australia was definitely an adventure for all of us."
The port visit followed the completion of TS17, which united 33,000 U.S. and Australian personnel to strengthen the U.S. - Australian alliance by building on partnerships, interoperability and the ability to respond to contingencies in the region.
Bonhomme Richard, flagship of the Bonhome Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency.
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