Makin Island Sailors and Marines Help Clean Up San Francisco Zoo During Fleet Week Festivities 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kory D. Alsberry, USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs  
SAN FRANCISCO - A group of 45 Sailors and Marines from the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit serving aboard the amphibious assault ship USS MAKIN ISLAND (LHD8) conducted a cleanup project at the San Francisco Zoo, Oct. 5, as part of the 31st annual San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW) celebration.

Makin Island Sailors and Marines spent the day helping clear out shrubs and dead roots in a pond and its surrounding areas to make room for a new dinosaur themed exhibit at the zoo.

"We couldn't undertake a job like this without the help of volunteers," said Greg McCoy, lead gardener for the San Francisco Zoo. "We are a small zoo we need all the help we could get. It's nice to have these fine men and women taking the time out from defending our country to help us out."

Sailors and Marines who took part in the project said knowing the Navy and Marine Corps' strong ties to the city and supporting the local community is a big part of SSFW.

"It's important to give back to the San Francisco community," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Thomas Tellis, who volunteered for the project. "The people of San Francisco have been showing us so much gratitude it feels good to give some back."

The zoo cleanup project was just one of many community relations projects being performed by Sailors and Marines.

"It's important to bring a human face to the military," said Lt. Harriet Johnson, Makin Island's safety officer and cleanup project participant. "We serve our country, but serve the local community as well. Coming to the Zoo really helps the community now and for future generations."

SSFW 2012 is scheduled from, Oct. 3-8, and will bring more than 2,500 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from four ships to the city of San Francisco in order to highlight the personnel, technology and capabilities of the sea services.

In addition to Makin Island, other ships taking part in SSFW 2012 include the guided missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Spruance (DDG 111) and the U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter Sherman (WHEC 720).

Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved over $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

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