TOWNSVILLE, Australia - The city of Townsville welcomed the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) Sailors and embarked Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to the city during an official ceremony held at the Army Museum North Queensland July 8.
Germantown is in Townsville, Australia, for a port visit to participate in Talisman Sabre 2011 (TS11), a bilateral command post and field training exercise designed to maintain a high level of interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces.
Approximately 23 Sailors and Marines attended the event with other distinguished guests.
"As mayor of Townsville, I am very pleased to officially welcome the USS Germantown, along with Cmdr. Hull and the ship's naval personnel and Marines to our wonderful city," Councilor Les Tyrell said. "We have a long tradition of extending a hand of friendship and hospitality to visiting U.S. personnel. We are delighted to again be a port of call for the Germantown before your participation in TS11."
He went on to explain the strong ties the two countries share with each other during times of peace and war. "The friendship between our two nations is unshakeable," he said. "Indeed, Townsville has forged a long camaraderie with U.S. personnel visiting our port both in times of war and peace."
Also during opening remarks, Grace Smallwood, a representative of indigenous Australians, welcomed the crew to Townsville and thanked them for services provided during past wars.
"On behalf of my people, the Bindal people, our elders, indigenous veterans and community and traditional owners, welcome," she said. "As indigenous people from this community, we strongly wanted today's ceremony to take place, not only to welcome you to our country, but to pay tribute to the close ties between our forces, ties that have been forged in both peace and war. On behalf of my people and all here, I wish you every success with exercise TS11."
Germantown Commanding Officer Cmdr. A. D. Hull took to the podium and expressed his appreciation for welcoming the ship and her crew to the city.
"Thank you very much for welcoming our Sailors and Marines to your warm city," he said. "The U.S. and Australia have been close allies. TS11 is one of those exercises that help us to work together. We are honored to be here today and look forward to working with you."
Afterwards, gifts were exchanged between Hull and the city representatives. Light snacks were then served as the guests mingled and exchanged conversation, and a tour of the museum was then offered for the guests.
Yeoman 1st Class (SW) Sheena Hunt said she enjoyed the event and found the people of Townsville to be extremely friendly. "I enjoyed the visit," she said. "It allowed us to interact with the Australians and learn more about their culture."
Germantown departed Sasebo, Japan June 24 for TS11. Germantown was commissioned Feb. 8, 1986 and is capable of carrying more than 721 Sailors and Marines. It is 610 feet long and can travel at speeds up to 20 knots.