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USS Bonhomme Richard welcomes San Francisco first responders

By Cpl. Michele Watson | | October 6, 2011

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San Francisco emergency first responders, who have been partnering with Navy and Marine Corps leaders, flew aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, Oct. 5.

Police Department personnel, firefighters and members of the San Francisco emergency management team came aboard to receive an orientation and tour the ship as it pulled into port the first day of San Francisco Fleet Week.

After a brief discussion of the ship’s capabilities, Navy crew members showed the visitors around the ship, highlighting its abilities to support combat operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions.

The tour showcased the 840-foot flight deck, the well deck, which brings in landing craft units, amphibious assault vehicles and landing craft air cushions, and the hospital, which can support up to 800 patients at a time. They were also taken to the pilot room where navigation crews guide the ship.

“It was a great experience to see the bridge where the captain works to bring the ship in,” said San Francisco Police Sgt. Philip M. Pera. “I’ve also never been on a helicopter before, so getting to fly on board was great.”

The purpose of Fleet Week is for the Navy and Marine Corps to showcase their capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster response. This experience creates the unique opportunity for service members to connect with citizens of the San Francisco Bay area.

“It’s good for civilians to get a better understanding of what the military is capable of,” said Pera.

The visitors who toured the ship are a part of the San Francisco community and will be working alongside Marines and sailors during many of the Fleet Week events. Among the events are equipment displays, ship tours, first responder training and park cleanup events.

“The district I work at is in Marina Green, where the Marine Corps and Navy will be setting up static displays,” said San Francisco Police Sgt. Luke Martin. “We were selected to come on this ship because we have a lot of knowledge of Fleet Week events and helped to set up many of them.”

Throughout the week, the focus remains on demonstrating the Navy-Marine Corps team’s amphibious nature, readiness and ability to respond to disasters, whether here or abroad, at a moment’s notice.

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