By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Loni Lopez, USS George Washington Public Affairs
BRISBANE, Australia (NNS) -- Sailors from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) participated in a community relations (COMREL) project at Mater's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, June 22.
The COMREL project, spearheaded by the ship's Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD), allowed Sailors to interact with patients from the hospital's childrens' ward and adult rehabilitation center, and try a host of traditional Aussie breakfast items including Vegemite and toast, meat pies, scones and cakes.
Deirdre Cooke, the rehabilitation coordinator for Mater Hospital, said that this visit played an important role in boosting the patients' spirits.
"The U.S. and Australia have a longstanding history of working together," said Cooke. "The spirit that Sailors bring to events like these only builds upon the camaraderie and friendship we've established, and heightens the morale of the patients on their road to recovery."
Eighteen Sailors had the opportunity to share stories with the patients and learn a little bit about the local culture.
"This was a chance for me to learn about Australian culture, their way of thinking, and all the aspects that encompass their nation," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Alondra Mendoza, from Whittier, California. "Being able to share all of this knowledge with them as an ambassador for the Navy has been an unbelievable experience."
According to CRMD, community relations programs work to better the relationships between the host nation and the U.S. Navy by earning public support and understanding of operations and missions.
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (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.