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130816-N-UE577-022_2 CAIRNS, Australia (Aug. 16, 2013) - Chief Electrician's Mate Lonnie Sanders visits a patient in the pediatric ward of Base Hospital in Cairns, Australia during a community service event conducted by the crew of dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42).  Germantown is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently conducting routine joint-force operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew B. Church/RELEASED)
Germantown Volunteers at Australian Hospital, departs Cairns
CAIRNS, Australia - Dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) departed Cairns, Australia after a routine port visit Aug. 15 to 19.

Roughly 30 Sailors and Marines volunteered at a local hospital during the visit, playing games with patients, sharing jokes, and generally uplifting the spirits of more than 100 patients.

"Having the opportunity to volunteer our time at the hospital didn't just lift the hearts of the patients there," said Lt. Robert Hecox, chaplain of Germantown. "It lifted our hearts as well. We were all just very thankful to invest some of our free time volunteering here today."

The visit followed Germantown's completion of a two week certification exercise (CERTEX) with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in the Coral Sea, during which Navy and Marine Corps maritime capabilities were certified to maintain fleet readiness.

"Germantown's visit represented a well earned break for the Sailors and Marines assigned to her," said Cmdr. Jason R. Leach, commanding officer of Germantown.

After a four day visit, Germantown departed Cairns to continue combined and joint-force operations in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

"The United States' relationship with Australia is essential to maintaining maritime dominance and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. We leave Cairns to ensure that purpose is realized, and we look forward to any future visits with our allies in Australia," said Leach.

Germantown is currently on patrol with the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, commanded by Capt. Cathal O'Connor, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 11 and reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.
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