HONG KONG (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, arrived in Hong Kong, Aug. 20, for a port visit.
The visit is the first port call for the crew, who departed San Diego July 25 before conducting Marine sustainment training off the coast of Hawaii and participating in a hurricane evacuation mission near Midway Island some 900 miles northwest of Hawaii.
"We've completed a tremendous amount of work since we left on this deployment," said Capt. Alvin Holsey, Makin Island's commanding officer. "The crew is looking forward to some well deserved time off in what has historically been a favorite port for Sailors and Marines."
Holsey added that port visits and professional engagements with allies and partners are all opportunities to build relationships in the region.
While in Hong Kong, the Sailors and Marines will have a wide selection of activities to choose from, ranging from 18 tours coordinated by the ship's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation department to a variety of community service programs coordinated through the Chaplain department.
"The benefit of these programs not only applies to the local nationals involved, but it allows our Sailors and Marines to experience local cultures and express goodwill," said Cmdr. Timothy Moore, a chaplain. "Being able to be involved with local youth and interact with them is an experience for us and the recipients. It's a win-win for everyone involved."
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and is joined in Hong Kong by amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) and dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45).
The ARG is on a deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to promote peace and freedom of the seas by providing security and stability in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
U.S. 7th Fleet conducted 80 exercises and nearly 200 port visits in 2013. Expectations for 2014 are to continue the pursuit of physical presence across the region which reassures allies and partners that 7th Fleet's commitment to them and to international norms, standards, rules and laws is steadfast and unwavering.