USS Germantown Arrives In Townsville for Port Visit, Start Talisman Sabre 
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnie Hickmon  
TOWNSVILLE, Australia - The forward-deployed dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) and embarked Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Townsville, Australia for a port visit July 7.

The visit also marks the beginning to 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.

Germantown Public Affairs Officer Ens. Roberto Johnson said the visit will help strengthen U.S./Australian ties. "We're happy to be here in Townsville," he said. "I feel this port visit and Talisman Sabre will help build on the friendship and working relationship we already have in place."

During the port visit, the crew will have the opportunity to not only shop and participate in several Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities, but lend a helping hand to the local community. The ship's first class association will sponsor a community relations project at the Cancer Institute and Endeavor, where Sailors and Marines will do yard maintenance and interact with mentally challenged individuals.

For many Sailors and Marines, this will be their first visit to the land down under. Marine Pfc. Christopher Dutzer said he has always wanted to visit Australia and is excited about the visit.

"I'm looking forward to enjoying the sites," he said. "I've had friends who have visited Townsville and they told me the people are very friendly. I think this will be a unique experience."

For others, this will the first time they've visited Australia in a few years. Culinary Specialist 2nd Class(SW) Caesar Ulsano said he last visited Australia four years ago and is looking forward to the friendly hospitality provided by the locals.

"I had a real good time the last time I visited," he said. "I'm looking forward to making new friends and enjoying the country."

In addition to the 31st MEU, units from Air Craft Unit 5 are embarked on Germantown for the exercise. They offer three Landing Craft Air Cushions, 15 Amphibious Assault Vehicles, three 7 ton vehicles, and several hummers to help support the mission.

Germantown departed Sasebo, Japan on 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.
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