Santa Rita, Guam (NNS) — Amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu “Iron Nickel” (LHA 5), the U.S. Navy’s only remaining LHA class ship, pulled into Guam for a four-day port visit, Aug. 15.
This marks the first time Peleliu has visited Guam since its 2010 deployment and the first port visit for any amphibious assault ship since the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) visited in 2012.
“Guam [has] a tourist based industry with lots to offer and I believe there is something to do for every Sailor,” said Cmdr. Matthew Niedzwiecki, Peleliu’s air boss. “‘Boonie stomping,’ which means hiking in the jungle, to some of the waterfalls is an island favorite and many of the hotels offer dinner shows highlighting the Pacific culture of the Marianas Islands. Every Sailor should expect to have a good time.”
Peleliu Sailors will participate in numerous community relations projects (COMREL) and sporting events during their brief stay in Guam.
“Community relations projects help build, develop, and secure important relationships with the people of Guam that endure for years,” said Cmdr. Jack Carver, Peleliu’s protestant chaplain. “People are impressed upon watching warships pull into port. When they meet the people who operate and maintain the ship they are even more impressed. Community relations give the general public a personal example of the commitment and professionalism that characterizes the way Sailors approach their mission every day.”
Carver added the Sailors who participate in the community relations projects will gain a rich understanding and appreciation for the history and culture of Guam.
“We want to return our appreciation for the gracious hospitality that the people of Guam will offer us throughout our port visit,” said Carver.
In addition to these COMREL projects, Peleliu’s sport teams, including volleyball, soccer, and men’s basketball will compete against Guam-based U.S. military teams, as well as host nation clubs.
“Playing sports against locals in foreign ports is great for many reasons,” said Lucas Eckstein, Peleliu’s fun boss. “It gives Sailors an opportunity to get exercise in other ways than just running on a treadmill or biking on the ship’s gym. It’s also great for international relations. Playing sports against someone who may not speak the same language as you offers a unique opportunity to forge a connection without speaking a word.”
Peleliu’s Sailors, most of whom have never visited Guam, will have the opportunity to visit an island rich in local and U.S. military history.
“Guam is fantastic port call for those that enjoy the outdoors,” said Niedzwiecki. “I was stationed here for three years and my wife and I enjoyed snorkeling, diving, and hiking. In addition, the Chamorros are very friendly and love to tell you about the island heritage. Hafa adai [“hello” in Chamorro, the native language of Guam and the islands of the Northern Marianas] and welcome to Guam, “where America’s day begins.”
Peleliu is underway conducting a scheduled Western Pacific deployment after successfully completing Rim of the Pacific exercise 2014, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.
For more news from USS Peleliu (LHA 5) , visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.