By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman, USS Antietam Public Affairs
SYDNEY (NNS) -- Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) arrived in Sydney for a port visit, June 17.
Sailors from both ships partnered with the Royal Australian Navy during the visit to train and enjoy the local culture.
"Our crew has been diligently training over the last several weeks to hone our warfighting skills," said Capt. Michael McCartney, Antietam's commanding officer. "We look forward with excitement to visiting Sydney. For many, it will be the first visit, and they have heard so many wonderful things about the city and her citizens."
Antietam and Mustin Sailors will have the opportunity to visit the city, sightsee, shop, enjoy recreational activities and interact with the people of Sydney.
"I'm really grateful for the opportunity to see Sydney," said Gunner's Mate Seaman Pedro Beal, from Antietam's weapons department. "I look forward to visiting different establishments and getting to know the people and culture of Australia."
For Sailors who don't know where to start exploring, Antietam and Mustin's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program offers various guided tours and activities to maximize their liberty time.
"The crew is really excited about Syndey," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Ashley Chan, Antietam's MWR president. "We offer Sailors tours to various landmarks, zoos and activities. The Aussie wildlife and Blue Mountains Hiking trip is the most popular one."
Sailors also have the opportunity to make a difference with the local community by dedicating some of their liberty to volunteering in various community service projects.
"It's another venue for us to get to know the locals," said Beal. "We're helping others not just by helping those in need but providing companionship. It's a different way to get introduced to the culture and build friendships along the way."
Port visits allow the U.S. to build and foster relationships with its host nation and spread the goodwill of the Navy through cultural exchange.
"Mustin is excited to have the opportunity to visit Sydney, engage with our Australian Navy shipmates and experience all that this world-famous city has to offer," said Cmdr. Joseph A. Torres Jr., Mustin's commanding officer. "We are looking forward to enjoying the rich culture and remarkable sights that make Sydney one of the most sought-after destinations in the world."
Both Antietam and Mustin are scheduled to participate in exercise Talisman Sabre 2015. Talisman Sabre is a biennial military exercise coordinated by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force, and will involve approximately 33,000 U.S. and Australian personnel.
Antietam and Mustin are on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.