USS Gunston Hall Arrives in Toulon, France

U.S. Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) enjoyed the opportunity to experience French culture during a port visit to Toulon, France, Nov. 10-12.

Crew members used the port visit as a chance to not only relax and enjoy some free time but to learn about local cuisine, culture and history.

I truly wasn’t sure what to expect, seeing how this is the first country I’ve been to outside of America,” said Engineman Fireman Apprentice Itzel Valdez. “I really enjoyed viewing all the old buildings, and the people were really friendly too.”

Many crew members participated in tours organized by Gunston Hall’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) team. Tours being offered included an all day countryside excursion with a stop at a local winery and a guided tour to Monte Carlo.

“I really wanted to see the authentic French countryside,” said Lt. j.g. Patrick Cummings. “It was really neat to be able to see all of these little country towns, it was everything I was hoping to get out of a tour to this area.”

“This was an extremely successful port visit in terms of MWR tours,” said Lt. j.g. Morgan Hill, Gunston Hall’s MWR officer. “The tours were fully booked and we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from our Sailors and Marines.”

In addition to tours, crew members were able to walk from the ship to the local shops and restaurants in Toulon.

“I didn’t sign up for any tours this time,” said Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Shields. “My liberty buddies and I spent a majority of our time eating, relaxing, sightseeing and exploring the town.”

Whether they took advantage of MWR tours or just browsed the local shops and restaurants, Gunston Hall Sailors and Marines got the opportunity to relax and make the most of their visit to Toulon.

The military port of Toulon is home to the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and her battle group. The French Mediterranean fleet is based in Toulon and it’s the major naval center on France’s Mediterranean coast.

Gunston Hall is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Gunston Hall is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Naval Today Staff,November 15, 2012