KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) arrived in Kota Kinabalu for a port visit, Feb. 23, as the crew continues working to strengthen regional partnerships.
Since the first American ship, USS Bennington, visited Sabah in Sandakan on June 28, 1899, U.S. naval vessels have continued their goodwill missions and worked to build capacity and interoperability with Malaysia. In the yearly 120 years since, U.S. Navy ships have worked to bolster security and to advance shared goals for Malaysians and people throughout the region.
“The USS Ashland is looking forward to the quality of life port visit in Kota Kinabalu,” said Cmdr. Patrick L. German, Ashland’s commanding officer. “There are two community relations projects scheduled and the crew is eager to interact with the local people and continue building on the great friendships we have here in Malaysia.”
While in Kota Kinabalu, some of Ashland’s crew will also be visiting a local high school and a non-profit, charitable facility, which provides care for persons with disabilities.
“I’m excited to experience Kota Kinabalu but I am also looking forward to the community relations events,” said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Crisanthony Cabarubias, from Seattle, Wash. “Although it is always a good experience to visit a new country, we also want to leave a good and lasting first impression as U.S. ambassadors to the host nation and locals.”
Kota Kinabalu will be a first for many of Ashland’s crew of Sailors and Marines. To maximize the experience, Ashland’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) committee scheduled events, such as a hike to Mt. Kinabalu, a city tour and a visit to the Mari Mari Cultural Village just to name a few.
The crew of Ashland has been training in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations with over 300 embarked Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Sailors from Naval Beach Unit 7 all assigned under Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11.
Ashland, part of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, with embarked 31st MEU, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.