ARABIAN GULF — The U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined Commander, Task Force 51, Jan. 3-4 for a tour of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).
Ambassador Joseph W. Westphal and Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III were among the many distinguished visitors who took advantage of the opportunity to visit Kearsarge while the ship is forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
"It was an honor to host the ambassador," said Capt. Larry G. Getz, commanding officer of Kearsarge. "Our international partnerships and coalitions are critical for mission accomplishment. We could not do what we do without the support of our allies."
While aboard, Westphal and Mundy interacted with top leadership, visited with Sailors and Marines, and viewed the many aspects of Kearsarge's operations and capabilities during a tour of the ship's spaces.
"Thank you to Maj. Gen. Mundy and the Task Force 51 staff, and the men and women of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit," said Westphal. "It was a truly amazing experience to see the tremendous capabilities of this group, its leadership, Sailors, and Marines. I'm grateful to Capt. Getz, Capt. Bennett, Col. Fulford, and all aboard for their service and hospitality."
During the two-day visit, the staffs and guests had the chance to get to know the crew members during shared meals in the chief petty officer's mess, mess decks and during various briefs.
"It was great to meet and speak with the ambassador during his tour of the medical department," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kerrye Barrett. "Being a casualty-receiving ship, we have six operating rooms, 15 intensive-care unit beds, and can extend out to 541 ward beds, making our medical capabilities second to the hospital ships, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Being able to showcase one of the ship's largest mission assets makes me proud to be part of the Kearsarge crew."
Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSGARG) and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.