USS Stethem visits Qingdao
Despite South China Sea tensions, US Navy makes port call.
USS Stethem visits Qingdao to promote cooperation with PLA(N)
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin V. Cunningham
USS Stethem Public Affairs
QINGDAO, China – The Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) conducted a port visit in Qingdao, July 28-30, to promote maritime cooperation and reinforce a positive naval relationship with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N)).
“We enjoyed the unique opportunity to strengthen our existing relations between our navies.” said Stethem’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Harry L. Marsh. “This visit gave our Sailors a valuable learning experience and a chance to share what they are trained and prepared so well to do, while sharing our cultures with one another.”
During the visit to Qingdao, Stethem welcomed Chinese military aboard for reciprocal guided tours and shipboard receptions with their host ship PLA(N) Yantai (FFG 538). Leaders from both ships also engaged in planning for a combined search and rescue (SAR) exercise that was conducted at sea.
“It was a very unique and exciting opportunity to compare our search and rescue [SAR] techniques with those of the Chinese,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Charles T. Stillinger. “I was able to gain new ideas and observe alternate SAR techniques that we could potentially implement in the future in order to make our program as effective as possible.”
While in port Stethem Sailors were afforded the opportunity to explore Qingdao through tours organized by the ship’s Morale and Welfare Recreation (MWR) program and participation in friendly sporting events such as tug-of-war, soccer, and basketball, with members of the North Sea Fleet.
Stethem is part of Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and plays a vital role in maintaining presence and partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
U.S. 7th Fleet was established in Australia in 1943 and based in Qingdao at the end of World War II. The largest of the U.S. Navy’s numbered fleets, 7th Fleet conducts more than 1,200 engagements annually with the 35 other maritime nations of the Indo-Asia-Pacific to promote security and stability throughout the region.