- Sailors and Marines aboard USS New Orleans (LPD 18) took part in liberty, community service projects, and received pre-holiday encouragement from visiting leadership during a port visit in Bahrain, Nov. 9-14.
The five-day port visit provided the crew with rest, recuperation, and allowed them the opportunity to serve and tour local communities in Bahrain.
“The crew worked well together to get to this point in our deployment,” said Cmdr. D. Michael Ray, New Orleans commanding officer. “They deserve some well-earned liberty here in Bahrain, so they can recharge their batteries and press on with our mission.”
New Orleans organized its Captain’s Cup tournament aboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, Nov. 12. Tournament teams represented their departments during volleyball, dodge ball, basketball, flag football, and tug-of-war competitions.
“The Captain’s Cup was an awesome event for the crew to get together and have some friendly competition followed by free food and drinks,” said Ensign Sarah Wood, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) representative and event organizer. “It was a good day for the ‘Big Easy.’”
Sailors and Marines assisted instructors in tutoring students at the American Cultural & Educational Center (ACEC) who were practicing conversational English, Nov. 13. The U.S. sponsored program offers Bahraini teens the opportunity to improve their English proficiency in hopes of studying abroad. The service members also gave a short presentation on Thanksgiving and answered questions about themselves and the American lifestyle.
“The Sailors and Marines help the students by giving them the opportunity to interact with speakers of American English who are not their teachers,” said Katherine Pettersson, ACEC principal. “In Bahrain it isn’t easy for the students to practice their speaking and comprehension skills with native speakers. It’s great for the students to see how much they have learned and that they could actually get by if they ever did visit America.”
MWR also offered recreational activities for Sailors and Marines. A popular activity for the crew was snorkeling around Bahrain while hunting for pearls. Other members experienced MWR-organized Arabic dinners and guided cultural tours of the island to sites such as the Al Fateh Grand Mosque and the National Museum where they learned about the country’s history as a pivotal trading hub. Other activities included a trip to a camel farm and a tour of the excavations of an ancient fortress.
“I really loved snorkeling, especially with my shipmates,” said Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Colton Lewin. “We didn’t find any pearls, of course, but I love just being in the water. After being in the ship cruising around on the water for weeks, it was refreshing to finally swim in it.”
Before New Orleans departed Bahrain, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 51, Brig. Gen. Gregg P. Olson; spoke to the crew about operations in the region and shared a few words of encouragement about the approaching holiday season.
“As the holidays approach, people think about how they’re going to be away from family,” Olson said. “I encourage you to consider that we have three families in life: the one we’re born into, the one we marry into, and the one we’re sworn into. Think about your loved ones at home, but don’t discount that you are among family through the holidays – the sworn-into family that we all share.”
New Orleans is currently deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group