SUVA, Fiji -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) departed Suva, Oct. 17, following a port visit that celebrated decades of Fiji-American naval partnership.
"The U.S. Navy maintains a presence in the Indo-Pacific region to help preserve peace and security, and further partnerships with friends and allies like Fiji," said Cmdr. Andy Strickland, commanding officer of Shoup. "Fiji is a key partner in the Western Pacific, and we are here to reinforce U.S. commitment to that partnership."
Strickland and his crew hosted more than 150 military and civilian dignitaries from the United States, Fiji, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Spain and New Zealand during a flight deck reception Oct. 14.
Michael Goldman, Charge d' Affaires for the American embassy, elaborated on the importance of Fiji-American relations.
"We're a Pacific nation; we've always been in the Pacific; we're always going to be in the Pacific," he stated. "We share a commitment, as a Pacific nation, to the peace and security of the Indo-Pacific region."
While in port, Sailors interacted with Fijian military and civilians during several events including symposiums, ship tours, and volunteer work.
Female Shoup Sailors hosted eight women from the Fijian Navy during a "Women at Sea Conference," where they shared experiences and provided advice to the Fijian Sailors. Fiji recently started allowing women to serve in the military. There are approximately 25 women serving in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF).
Chief Information Systems Technician Grace Glover said the RFMF female Sailors shared concerns and issues they were facing and their effects. By the end of the symposium, they understood that overcoming the challenges they were facing now would help them shape the future for women in the Fijian Navy.
As part of the port visit, nine Shoup Sailors played a friendly game of basketball against a Fijian basketball team. After the game, the Fijian men's team presented Shoup Sailors with a traditional Fijian wooden bowl for kava-drinking ceremonies and movie tickets.
Other Shoup Sailors volunteered at the Chanel Home of Compassion, an assisted living facility. The Sailors helped clean the Catholic nursing center by washing windows, dusting, and yard work. Other Sailors planted thousands of mangrove seedlings in the Suva Foreshore behind the Fiji Maritime Academy.
Following the port visit, Shoup returned to its Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) mission.
OMSI is a secretary of defense program leveraging Department of Defense assets transiting the region to increase maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy and constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions that promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific theater of operations.