RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil --
Brazilian diplomats, military personnel and media were hosted aboard the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during a port visit to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 5 through Aug. 8.
During the port visit, the ship hosted tours, a press conference and a formal reception in the ship’s hangar bay.
Tours of USS America were conducted daily. Those who were in attendance were American and Brazilian diplomats, Sailors and Marines and U.S. Consulate staff. The tours were made up of multiple static displays hosted by Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South. The displays showcased the assets and capabilities the Marines bring to the Ship during her transit. Among the static displays were light armored vehicles, several infantry weapons systems, a Mark 2 MTRS (Talon) robot, and the MV-22 Osprey.
A press conference was held on the flight deck of the ship. Rear Adm. Frank L. Ponds, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, addressed the media while standing with Captain Robert Hall Jr., the commanding officer of USS America, and Lt. Col. George Hasseltine, the commanding officer of SPMAGTF-South. He spoke to the importance of our partnership in the region.
“Visits like this are the beginning of something great,” said Ponds. “We will continue the greatness that we have embarked upon.”
Ponds emphasized that our visit was not only social; it provided unity for operational purposes, too.
“These exchanges have relevance and they have reason,” said Ponds. “They make us more interoperable and meant to work together if and when the time comes.”
Nearly 500 personnel attended the formal reception in the ship’s hangar bay. The guests enjoyed a night of good company, food, music and dancing.
“We are neighbors, we are friends and we are family,” Ponds said. “You have given us lifelong memories that we will never forget.”
The reception showcased the exceptional asset that the Navy-Marine Corps team is to our nation and partners.
“My thanks go out to all the men and women, both Navy and Marines, that are the heart and soul of USS America,” said Liliana Ayalde, United States ambassador to Brazil. “While it is difficult to build a ship or an aircraft of the complexity seen here, it is impossible to employ effectively without hard working Sailors and Marines.”
The ship is scheduled to make multiple port stops with partner-nations before reaching its homeport in San Diego and finally being commissioned in San Francisco.
“After this, we will travel through the Straits of Magellan,” Ponds said. “Then we will stop off in Chile and Peru, and then finally we will stop off in the new homeport of San Diego, Calif. We will commission this ship on Oct. 11, not as a future amphibious assault ship, but as the USS America.”
The Marines of SPMAGTF-South are embarked aboard USS America on her maiden transit, "America Visits the Americas". A SPMAGTF is a balanced air, ground and logistics force that can be tailored to accomplish missions across a wide range of crises. Through partner-nation activities, key leader engagements and security cooperation activities, the Marines and Sailors of SPMAGTF South demonstrate the flexibility, utility and unparalleled expeditionary capability the Navy-Marine Corps team provides our nation and partners.