SEAL BEACH, Calif. – While in port at Naval Weapons Stations Seal Beach, 21 Sailors assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), volunteered for a Community Relations (COMREL) project to clear litter and debris from Seal Beach's waterfront, March 5.
Sailors spent several hours removing trash of all sizes along the beach and the San Gabriel River. The volunteers also went to City Hall for a tour and to meet with several city officials, where they learned the about the city’s land/water conservation initiatives.
COMRELs are an important part of the Navy's mission, they enhance the relationship between the Navy and local governments. COMRELs also provide important opportunities for Sailors to learn local cultures and customs, and engage in team building exercises with their peers. Several Sailors from the Seal Beach event commented afterwards that they now feel like Seal Beach is 'their' city, and many others are eager to do beach clean-ups with local municipalities back home in San Diego.
"I had a great experience cleaning up Seal Beach,” said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Brandon Beenblossom, a Lincoln, Nebraska native. “I believe it is everyone's duty to try to leave our communities better than we found them."
Lt. Jeremy Sweeten, Chaplain of Bunker Hill, is responsible for organizing all of the ship's COMREL events, and worked closely with Patrick Gallegos, assistant city manager.
“This was the first volunteer effort in recent memory between a visiting ship and City Hall,” said Seal Beach city officials.
Capt. Kurt Sellerberg, commanding officer of Bunker Hill, encourages COMRELs whenever possible, during both foreign and domestic port visits. Under his command, Bunker Hill Sailors have volunteered more than 500 hours of community service and conservation since June 2018.
"Engaging with the local community is a valuable way to say thank you for all the support they provide," said Sellerberg. "Bunker Hill's leadership continuously encourages our Sailors to get out into the local community and volunteer. It's a small act of kindness to show our local communities they are truly deserving of our thanks for their continued support to our Navy and Nation."