By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas, USS George Washington Public Affairs
BRISBANE, Australia (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG) departed Brisbane, Australia, June 24, after a five-day goodwill port visit.
GWCSG includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90).
"It was a great honor to be here in Brisbane," said Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander, Battle Force U.S. 7th Fleet. "We have a great connection with the people of Australia, along with our common history and background. Thank you for opening your city to us."
During the visit, George Washington held a welcoming reception for Australia's leaders and local nationals, to include Ambassador John Berry, U.S. Ambassador to Australia; Hugo Llorens, U.S. Consul General; George Brandis, attorney general for Australia; and the Honorable Jackie Trad, Queensland deputy premier.
"Our thanks go to the men and women of the United States and Australia who are serving today. The proud tip of the spear of freedom," said Berry. "For 239 years the U.S. has been dedicated, ever-moving persistently forward, toward an ever more perfect union at home and toward a better world for all, with the help of our allies and our friends. America is grateful to have you [Australia] shoulder-to-shoulder with us every step of the way and through every military engagement since WWI. Long may this alliance last and prosper. May God bless all those who serve in uniform. May God bless the United States and Australia."
The reception highlighted the celebration of the upcoming 239th birthday of the United States and its intertwined history with Australia.
"Captain Kuehhas, you and the servicemen who serve aboard this wonderful ship are very welcome. On behalf of the Prime Minister of the people of Australia, I bid you welcome to this fine city," said Brandis. "We gather tonight to welcome our friends and allies, and to share a celebration of the 239th birthday of a nation who has done more to advance the cause of freedom than any nation has done in whole history of mankind."
Brandis added that the inspiration of our longstanding alliance is not simply in the need to protect the people, but also founded in the ideals of liberty. Hence, it was appropriate to celebrate with George Washington - a ship named after the founder of the U.S. nation and with the motto "the Spirit of Freedom."
The five-day visit allowed Sailors to compete in four sporting events with local teams, explore 14 local attractions, and lend a hand in six community relation (COMREL) projects.
During a COMREL project at the Queensland Maritime museum, U.S. service members assisted in the restoration of the Royal Australian Navy River-class frigate HMAS Diamantina (K377).
"We greatly appreciate the support and assistance provided to us from GW," said Ian Jempson, museum chief executive officer. "This young group of Sailors helped us complete some very physically demanding tasks on our warship and we welcome them back whenever the seas should take them here."
George Washington and CVW-5 are on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.