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NEWS | Nov. 18, 2015

Rushmore Returns to Indonesia

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Troy Milburn

BALI, Indonesia (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), along with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), arrived in Bali Nov. 16, for a scheduled port visit.

From integrated amphibious operations with the Indonesian navy during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014, to several interactions during Rushmore's current deployment, building the relationship between the United States and Indonesia is a theme Rushmore Sailors are excited to continue.

"During RIMPAC 2014, Rushmore integrated with the Indonesian landing platform dock ship KRI Banda Aceh (LPD 593)," said Cmdr. Thomas Stephens, Rushmore's commanding officer. "During the exercise, crews of Rushmore and Banda Aceh conducted successful integrated amphibious operations, including the recovery of Banda Aceh amphibious assault vehicles into Rushmore's well deck."

Rushmore has carried its tradition of working with the Indonesians into their current deployment in port and at sea, starting with their port visit to Manado.

"During this Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment, Rushmore was the first U.S. military ship to visit Manado, Indonesia, since 2012," said Stephens. "After leaving Manado, Rushmore rescued and rendered assistance to 65 Indonesians adrift in the Makassar Strait. The cooperation and compassion demonstrated by Sailors and Marines unquestionably assisted in a maturing bilateral relationship between the United States and Indonesia."

Even Sailors on their first Western Pacific Deployment have been impacted by experiences shared with the people of Indonesia.

"I'll always remember the visit to Manado," said Cryptologic Technician Technical 2nd Class Ivan Pedraza. "You could tell the people weren't really exposed to international visitors by how excited they were to greet us. It was a really unique experience in a growing city, and it makes me wonder what it was like a few years ago for the last Sailors who visited."

While visiting Manado was an eye-opening experience for Sailors and Marines as they were received with handshakes from excited locals, many are anticipating blending into the tourist-oriented atmosphere of Bali.

"Bali seems like it has a little bit of everything," said Information Technology Specialist 2nd Class Patrick Laxa. "There are temples, themed restaurants, beautiful resorts and pretty much anything you could hope for as a tourist. I'm really looking forward to getting out and exploring."

"Manado was a great port visit to start deployment and Bali is a great port visit to end it," said Stephens. "With Manado as our first port visit and Bali as the last, Indonesia has become a significant part of our experience deployed and provided a positive bookend to Rushmore's WESTPAC 2015 for Sailors and Marines who have worked extremely hard these past six months."

Rushmore, part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are currently operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

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