By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) David P. McKee, USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs
SINGAPORE - While there certainly wasn't snow in the forecast for the local climate, Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) still showed signs of holiday spirit by celebrating the Christmas holiday in Singapore, Dec. 25.
Most Sailors and Marines on liberty celebrated their holiday in Singapore with shopping, seeing movies, dining at local restaurants and sight seeing.
For Ships Serviceman 3rd Class Jose Plamarrero, getting out in town afforded him the opportunity to take advantage of technology to keep in touch with his family half a world away through Wi-Fi and Skype.
Those in the ship's duty section had the chance to attend religious services, watch football and Christmas movies, and eat a special turkey dinner prepared by the ship's food service division.
Sailors and Marines not on duty, but who choose to stay on the ship, used the holiday to relax, spend time with shipmates, do some laundry, and enjoy decorating the berthing where they live, which was the case for Private 1st Class Robert Mista assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
"A buddy of mine received some Christmas gifts in the mail, so we are going to decorate our berthing, hang out and watch movies and call home," said Mista.
Newly reporting Seaman Recruit Tania Blanco learned that the Navy's mission does not stop for the holidays when she arrived on the ship Christmas morning at 2 a.m.
There were no decorations to put out. Instead she spent her first Christmas aboard Makin Island putting her clothes away, meeting her shipmates and learning the ship.
Sailors and Marines aboard Makin Island said that spending holidays away from home are challenging but thanks to email, the postal system and international calling cards, staying connected is possible.
Makin Island and the 11th MEU departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), supporting the nation's maritime strategy.
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.
More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.