The port visit to Suva on the south coast of the country’s main island provided opportunities to foster U.S.-Fiji military relations, and allowed the crew of more than 300 to work with the local community.
Sailors visited the Samabula Senior Citizens Home, painted one of the wards in Colonial War Memorial hospital and met with students from Veiuto Primary School and Cathedral High School.
“It was a truly rewarding experience to give back to the Suva community,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Brian Swarthout who provided landscaping services to the elderly at Samabula. “Seeing the sheer joy on their faces is unforgettable, and we will cherish the friendships made during our short stay.”
The destroyer’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Walter C. Mainor, held a leadership symposium with cadets from the Royal Fijian Maritime Academy. The meeting was followed by a soccer match between members of the ship’s crew and the academy.
The engagements culminated with a reception held aboard the Lawrence. Senior leaders present included Fiji President Konrote and Ambassador Cefkin.
Fiji suffered a military takeover in 2006 and was expelled from the British-led Commonwealth of Nations, but returned to democracy in 2014 with general elections.
Commissioned June 4, 2011, Lawrence is named after Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, a naval aviator, former Vietnam prisoner of war and former commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet.
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