MANILA, Republic of the Philippines -- Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet personnel completed a month-long theater security cooperation (TSC) patrol in the Indo-Pacific, June 15.
More than 40 members of the 7th Fleet staff, including U.S. 7th Fleet Band members and Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC), had been embarked on USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) visiting ports in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Republic of the Philippines.
Flag officers and senior staff members participated in bilateral staff talks, subject matter exchanges and receptions for local dignitaries. Embarked Sailors and Marines interacted with children in orphanages, schools and visited local museums. In addition, the band performed at several public venues, malls and parks and conducted workshops with local musicians.
"The flagship of the U.S. 7th Fleet, USS Blue Ridge has been in extended maintenance since 2016, and this has been our first opportunity to get out and about as a staff and engage with our regional partners," said Capt. Bernie Wang, 7th Fleet Theater Security Cooperation director and mission commander for the patrol. "For this patrol, we wanted to take a platform, like USNS Millinocket, that operates regularly in Southeast Asia and has participated in multilateral exercises like CARAT and put the staff on board to do some extra stuff - key leader engagements, receptions as well as band performances - that we don't get to do during exercises. The people-to-people contact remains extremely important."
"Everywhere we went we had great outreach, partnerships, friendships and huge responses from the crowds welcoming the 7th Fleet team," said Chief Musician Robert Booker, senior enlisted leader for the patrol.
"I think this patrol has been very successful," said Wang. "It's been really great to see the men and women embarked on this patrol get out there and help the local communities during community relations events, as well as build that people-to-people relationship with our partner nations through subject matter exchanges, staff talks and senior leader engagements. Just hearing from senior leaders from around the region, our presence being here is very important."
Seventh Fleet, which celebrated its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet's area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world's population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors in the 7th Fleet.