Stethem Sailors Experience Culture in Saipan
FILE PHOTO. INDIAN OCEAN (Nov. 20, 2011) - The guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) leads a group of Indonesian navy ships in formation during a pass and review with the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).  Stethem is part of the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group and is currently anchored off the coast of Bali, Indonesia for a port visit.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Terry Matlock/Released)
Stethem Sailors Experience Culture in Saipan
By Ensign Rebecca Speer, USS Stethem Public Affairs
PHILIPPINE SEA – Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) visited Saipan for a port visit Oct. 2-4.  

The port call provided Stethem’s crew an opportunity to refresh during break from operations and enjoy the hospitality for which the people of Saipan are well known. Stethem departed port early in order to avoid an approaching typhoon and maintain her readiness to execute underway operations in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

Despite the abbreviated visit, crewmembers were enthusiastic about their time in Saipan. 

“I loved my time in Saipan and hope to come back on vacation,” said Gas Turbine Systems (Electrical) 3rd Class Brandon Longworth. “One of the things I did was mud-buggying, which was incredibly awesome!” 

The ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) committee facilitated opportunities for Sailors to see the different parts of Saipan and take advantage of a variety of activities. Available options included water sports, shopping, and historical tours around the island. All of these activities provided Sailors a chance to explore Saipan, a destination many have not visited before.  “We wanted to give our Sailors a chance to experience all the different sides of Saipan,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Alyssia Williams, MWR representative. The stopover also provided an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between Saipan and the U.S. Navy. The Saipan Chamber of Commerce hosted a reception to bring together local business owners and the crew.  “It was a treat to be welcomed by the Saipan Chamber of Commerce,” said Lt. j.g. Carlos Rosende. “The event was held at a restaurant that offered a 360 degree view of the beautiful island.”

The port visit was abbreviated from the planned five due to the imminent arrival of Typhoon Vongfong. 

“Our pier was very exposed to the elements,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Donte Ruffin. “With the storm arriving, there were worries about the safety of the ship and crew if we remained in Saipan.” 

Stethem is on patrol with the George Washington Strike Group in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations providing security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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