MANAMA, Bahrain -- U.S. Navy sailors and Marines assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) conducted a port visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain, July 11-18.
The visit was an opportunity for the crew to relax while on liberty, give back to the local community and conduct essential maintenance and repairs as the ship nears the mid-point of deployment.
“The visit was a huge success as it gave the crew a chance to recharge, with some well deserved time off,” said Iwo Jima’s Command Master Chief Mario Romero. “I feel confident the crew, as well as the ship, is ready to go back out and continue our mission.”
While in Bahrain, the ship’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation committee sponsored tours for the crew. Attractions included a guided cultural tour, fishing trip, go-kart racing and golf tournament, a resort barbeque, snorkeling, spa treatments, and a trip to a water park.
Lance Cpl. Nadia Ramphal, a Marine assigned to the 24th MEU, said the guided cultural tour caught her eye because it was a way to have fun and also gain something from the port visit.
“I was interested in learning about the Bahraini culture because that was one of the reasons why I joined the Marine Corps; to experience different cultures,” said Ramphal. “Going to the Grand Mosque and getting to wear a jellabiya, traditional dress worn by Muslim women, was my favorite part of the tour. It looks as though it might be hot and uncomfortable, but it’s really not.”
Not only did members of the Iwo Jima crew enjoy liberty, many took the time to volunteer in the local community. More than 60 sailors and Marines participated in various community relations events, including the Regional Institute for Active Learning, the Bahrain Mobility International and a center cultural exchange at the Philippine Embassy.
"I volunteered at the Bahrain Mobility International because I wanted to do something positive," said Sgt. James Hall, a volunteer from the 24th MEU. “I figured I’d help someone out, rather than use my liberty time spending money.”
Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 24th MEU are currently deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.