Amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) leads a formation of ships during a photo exercise near Guam. Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group consists of Amphibious Squadron 7, USS Bonhomme Richard, amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD 9), dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), guided missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65), and 2,200 combat ready Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mark Patterson II
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR), USS Denver (LPD 9), and USS Rushmore (LSD 47) departed Singapore on May 12 after a three-day port visit.
During the port visit, Sailors and Marines from the San Diego-based ships explored the islandâ€™s culture and history, relaxed and participated in community service projects.
At the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care Center, volunteers raked leaves, trimmed hedges and helped improve the centerâ€™s overall visual appearance.
According to Aabian Anthony, a caretaker at the center, the project made a great difference in the overall appearance of the building.
â€œWe welcomed these military volunteers with open arms,â€ said Anthony, a native of Singapore. â€œI was overjoyed with the support of this crew. It felt like they gave their maximum efforts. It wouldâ€™ve taken a week to accomplish what these volunteers did in a couple of hours.â€
Quartermaster 3rd Class Carrin Johnson, who volunteered at the center, said community service projects are a great way for the Navy and Marine Corps to show the community that they care.
â€œI like participating in community service projects because it lets people know that we actually care about the impression we make as a military unit,â€ said Johnson, who is stationed aboard Rushmore.
Others volunteered at Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific Fleet Industrial Support Center at the Sembawang Naval Base, testing and packing donated computers bound for schools in the region.
â€œWe tested the computers out to make sure they were in a good working state,â€ said Amphibious Squadron 7â€™s Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michel Muller. â€œIf they were good, we got them ready to be donated to schools in the Philippines and Malaysia.â€
Aviation Machinistâ€™s Mate 2nd Class (AW) Jesus Farrera, stationed aboard BHR, said this was a good opportunity to put to work some of his knowledge for a good cause.
â€œIâ€™ve had some experience with computers, so I thought, why not do something good,â€ said Farrera. â€œEven though this was a fairly simple project, it offered us the opportunity to help these schools out in an immense way.â€
The many tours offered by the BHRâ€™s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department were a great way for Sailors and Marines to experience the island nation.
â€œWe saw wild boars, spiders the size of your hand and monitor lizards,â€ said BHR Sailor Damage Controlman Fireman John Scurlock, who went on an MWR-sponsored mountain bike tour of Pulau Ubin Island. â€œIt was nice to get out away from the ship and get some exercise.â€
MWR also offered day and night tours of the city, a day trip to Sentosa Island, historical tours and dinner cruises.
The ethnic diversity of Singapore offered one Sailor an opportunity to experience a bit of his homeland.
â€œLittle India was just like going to India,â€ said Machinistâ€™s Mate Fireman Mohammed Z. Hassan, a BHR Sailor and native of Dhaka, Bangladesh. â€œThey have really held on to the culture there. The style of dress, the food -- everything was authentic.â€
Hassan said while in Little India he found a restaurant that served authentic dishes from his home country.
â€œIt was nice to go to a restaurant that served food from Bangladesh,â€ said Hassan. â€œThis was the first time in over a year that I got to eat food from home and speak my native language [Bengali].â€
As the ships pulled out of Singapore, the Sailors and Marines took with them fond memories of Singaporeâ€™s beauty and hospitality, according to BHR Sailor Airman Nick E. Wolfe.
â€œThis was the most scenic place I have ever been to and I met some of the friendliest people ever,â€ said Wolfe. â€œThis port visit was an overall great experience.â€
The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHRESG) consists of Amphibious Squadron 7, Bonhomme Richard , Denver, Rushmore, USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Chosin (CG 65), and 2,200 combat-ready Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The BHRESG is underway on a regularly scheduled deployment in U.S. 7th Fleetâ€™s area of responsibility and is currently under operational control of Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navyâ€™s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.