USS Kearsarge enjoys Maltese hospitality
The USS Kearsarge was recently in Malta giving its crew members an opportunity to enjoy the warm hospitality of the Maltese and the historical attractions of the Island. With a crew of more than 3000 Sailors and Marines, the ship was the largest U.S. Navy vessel to visit Malta in recent years.
Officers and crew members reciprocated the hospitality by welcoming several Maltese guests on board the vessel in a number of activities organized by the U.S. Embassy. Guests on board the ship were given an interesting and informative tour which highlighted the excellent, state-of-the-art medical facilities, the capability of the ship to produce drinking water in times of strife and to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees of war, famine and natural disasters.
While visiting the island, US Navy Sailors and Marines competed against the First Regiment of the Armed Forces of Malta in a friendly football game that ended in a hard-won victory for the Maltese team. Ensign Tim Vanzant from the USS Kearsarge said it was a privilege "to compete with people from another country who play sports everyday". The two teams enjoyed an intense game of football played in a spirit of comradeship.
Volunteers from the USS Kearsarge worked at a number of Maltese charitable institutions and offered their muscle and enthusiasm to several maintenance projects. U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires, a.i. Jason Davis thanked the volunteers and said that the Kearsarge “performed more community assistance projects than any other U.S. ship that has ever visited Malta". The USS Kearsarge's Gospel Choir sang during Mass at St. Lawrence Parish Church in Vittoriosa and the Mater Boni Consilli Church in Paceville. Their participation in the Masses was received enthusiastically by the congregations.
Officers of the Armed Forces of Malta and a number of youth leaders were also guests of honor during receptions organized on board the ship. Captain James Gregorski, Commander of the USS Kearsarge, and Chargé d'Affaires, a.i. Mr. Jason Davis, co-hosted the events. Captain Gregorski commented on the success of the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program which continues to promote a healthy exchange of views on defense matters. In his comments he added that "the U.S. military has a high degree of respect for the Armed Forces of Malta's capabilities and professionalism". During the reception for youth leaders, Mr. Davis said that he was impressed with the participation of representatives of so many youth organizations in Malta, despite the August 15th holiday weekend. He added that the event was an opportunity to exchange perspectives and have a dialogue on issues of peace and security with young leaders in Malta. Mr. Davis said, "the U.S. Government welcomes discussion among people who might have different opinions, but who all believe in a united effort to ensure dialogue and mutual understanding".
Before leaving Malta, Captain Gregorski said "I'm proud of everyone on board the Kearsarge who participated in the events and took the opportunity to learn of the history and culture here in Malta. We truly appreciate the genuine hospitality and friendly nature of the leaders and the people of Malta and we are delighted at the opportunity to promote good will between our nations and further strengthen our bilateral relationship".