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130713-N-KE519-002 BRISBANE, Australia (July 13, 2013) - Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Hammond Crawford, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), assists in hoisting the brow ramp in preparation for departing Brisbane, Australia after a scheduled port visit. Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), is conducting routine joint-force operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Edward Guttierrez III/Released)
Bonhomme Richard Departs Brisbane
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jerome D. Johnson
BRISBANE, Australia - The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) departed Brisbane, Australia after a four-day port visit.

During the visit, Sailors and Marines participated in community relations projects, a friendly Rugby match with the local West Brisbane Bulldogs club team, and multiple tours offered by Bonhomme Richards' Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department.

"The visit to Brisbane was a great opportunity for us to see Australia and continue to build positive relations with one of our closest allies," said Capt. Daniel Dusek, Bonhomme Richard commanding officer. "The Sailors and Marines of Bonhomme Richard thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality shown to us by the people of Queensland."

Twenty-four personnel from Bonhomme Richard visited the Eastside Aged Living Facility and Community Services as part of a community relations project and assisted the staff in providing care for the elderly.

"It's been amazing to have Sailors and Marines here to help with the clients. It gives the staff a break and the clients are excited to interact with American Navy and Marine personnel," said Wendy Porter, community manager.

The crew also experienced Brisbane through MWR tours designed to highlight recreational opportunities in the area, including local attractions, beaches, and city ferry cruises.

On the final night in Brisbane, Sailors and Marines competed in a friendly game of rugby against West Brisbane Bulldogs at Toowong Memorial park.

"Our gracious hosts, the West Brisbane Bulldogs Club were the victors in the match, but it's not the score that counts." said Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Alvarez, Bonhomme Richards' rugby team captain. "It's the camaraderie and friendships that were built and the good will between our two nations that was bolstered during a night of friendly competition. I can't think of anything better to round out a great port visit to the friendly and generous city of Brisbane."

The port visit was the first opportunity for Bonhomme Richards' crew to explore Australia since it began operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility as the flagship of the only forward-deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

"This was my first time visiting Australia," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kourtney Thomas. "It was fun being able to go to the amusement park, try out local cuisine, and see the wildlife up close. Being in Brisbane was an awesome experience overall."

Bonhomme Richard is currently participating in the biennial exercise Talisman Saber 2013. The exercise is designed to enhance bilateral interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces.

The Bonhomme Richard ARG is commanded by Capt. Cathal O'Connor, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 and reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.
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