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Bonhomme Richard Hosts Ambassadors, Regional Military Leaders While in Manila

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeanette Mullinax, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs | | March 8, 2018

MANILA BAY, Philippines – The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), with embarked 3d Marine Division (MARDIV) Marines, hosted Ambassadors to the Republic of the Philippines, and several key Indo-Pacific region distinguished visitors and military leaders aboard the ship in Manila Bay, Philippines, during a scheduled port visit, March 5.

During the visit, Ambassador Sung Kim, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines, Ambassador Koji Haneda, Japan Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines, Ambassador Dong-man Han, Republic of Korea Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines and guests were presented a capabilities brief and taken on a ship tour.

Capt. Larry McCullen, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard discussed the embarked amphibious equipment and aircraft, as well as what Bonhomme Richard has to offer as a regional partner, including military and humanitarian assistance during a ship capabilities brief.

“Our visit gave us an opportunity to strengthen the relationship our countries have enjoyed for more than 70 years,” said McCullen. “Our Sailors and Marines will also have the opportunity to lend a helping hand to those affected by the Mayon Volcano eruption. We have a couple teams that are going out to help package up relief supplies to support the evacuees.”

The ship tour included spaces such as the well deck, flight deck, medical and the hangar bay, and gave the visitors a chance to see and touch the things discussed in the capabilities brief.

“We always enjoy the opportunity to have visitors tour our medical spaces,” said Capt. Stephen Arles, Bonhomme Richard’s senior medical officer. “Our capabilities are second only to the Navy’s hospital ships, and it makes us proud to let our partners see our facilities, and to discuss what we have to offer in the way of medical services should a natural disaster happen or any other emergency arise.”

The port visit follows Bonhomme Richard’s participation in exercise Cobra Gold 2018, and provides the crew an opportunity to experience the rich history and culture of the Philippines, and to connect with the people of Manila through community relations projects and planned tours of the local area.

For some of the crew, the visit provided a chance to visit with family. Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Edwin Afante, from Chicago, who participated as a tour escort during the ship visit and has family local to the Manila area, said that throughout his 12 years of U.S. Navy service he never expected that he would have the opportunity to reconnect with his family through a port visit in their home country.

“I never thought it [visiting with family in Manila] would happen,” said Afante. “I’m enjoying Manila. It’s beautiful out here and I feel privileged to have this opportunity to spend time with my family.”

Bonhomme Richard, part of Amphibious Squadron 11, is in Manila to strengthen relations with Philippine partners, and the ship continues to operate in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a regularly scheduled patrol and to provide a rapid-response capability in the event of a regional contingency or natural disaster.