Italy: Multipurpose Amphibious Assault Ship Underway Following Successful Palermo Port Visit

Training & Education


More than 2,500 Sailors and embarked Marines aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) departed Palermo, Italy, May 31 following a successful four-day port visit.

The crew had the opportunity to sightsee and experience the city’s hospitality and culture through tours and excursions in Palermo and around the Sicilian Island.

“The people of Palermo welcomed the crew with open arms,” said Capt. Steve Koehler, Bataan’s commanding officer. “Many of our Sailors and Marines joined the Navy to see the world, and a city like Palermo with everything it has to offer, is exactly what they had in mind. After more than two months at sea, it was an ideal first stop during our current deployment.”

A host of Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tours provided the crew an opportunity to expand their appreciation for the local Italian culture. Sailors and Marines enjoyed walking tours throughout the city and guided tours of Agrigento, Taormina and San Vito Lo Capo, and an event that also included a wine tasting in one of the region’s vineyards.

“I’m getting to meet new people and see places I have never been before,” said Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Juan Perdomoramirez, who visited Taormina. “It was exciting seeing all of the beautiful scenery, taking pictures and touring the city. This is something the crew will get to share with their friends and family.”

Bataan’s Sailors and Marines also cheered on the local Palermo soccer team during their Italian Cup matchup against Inter Milan, an event played in Rome but broadcast to thousands in the Palermo city center.

Palermo lost the match, but the crew left with souvenirs and lasting memories of the population’s passion for the sport.

“The way the fans were cheering was like a sport of its own,” said Lance Cpl. Stephan Hammond, a member of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) who watched the game. “It was awesome to see how much pride the city of Palermo has in their soccer team. I’ll never forget it.”

Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready (ARG) group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.
Source: navy, June 2, 2011;