Normandy Spends Holidays In Dubai

ARABIAN SEA – The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) departed port Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates following a scheduled port visit Dec. 28.

While in port Jebel Ali for the holidays, which is just a short drive from Dubai, more than 100 Sailors participated in tours hosted by USO Dubai, talked to their families back home during the holidays, experienced local culture, and participated in a flag flying ceremony.

“Having the opportunity to be in port for the holiday was a well-deserved reward. In many respects, Dubai is one of the best liberty ports you can get in 5th Fleet and having our Sailors get to experience it was great,” said Capt. Chris D. Stone, commanding officer of Normandy. “I always look forward to rewarding our Sailors after they perform at extremely high levels at sea.”

According to their website, the USO Inc. is an American nonprofit-charitable corporation that provides live entertainment, such as comedians, actors and musicians, social facilities, and other programs to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.

One of the programs the USO facilitates are tours for Sailors visiting foreign countries while on deployment.

“The sunset safari tour was definitely my favorite part of my favorite port visit during deployment,” said Fire Controlman (Aegis) 3rd Class Darrell Lawson, from Dallas, Texas. “Driving through the dunes during the tour was an exhilarating experience. It was a sight to behold watching the sun set over the dunes of the Dubai desert.”

Another attraction for Normandy Sailors while in port was the Mall of Dubai.

“I went to the Mall of Dubai, which is the largest mall in the world, shopped a little bit, and I was astounded at how big it actually is,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Lizeth Reyes, temporarily assigned to Normandy from the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64). “My liberty party and I also went sightseeing and took overnight liberty in a fancy hotel.”

Reyes said while staying in the hotel, sleeping in a comfortable bed helped her feel relaxed, rejuvenated and was a good reset.

While staying at the hotel, Reyes said she had the opportunity to talk at length with her family.

“Being able to talk with my family while in Dubai for the holidays is the only way I can feel closer to them while thousands of miles away,” said Reyes. “Despite being away for the holidays, I volunteered for this deployment on Normandy, and I am glad to be here. It’s amazing to be able to learn my job underway as well as visit all these amazing countries.”

While visiting foreign countries in the Navy, many Sailors have been able to experience different cultures and take in sights they never would have otherwise.

“The Mall of Dubai was a melting pot of different cultures, and the artwork in the mall was unlike anything I have ever seen,” said Lawson. “I also went to an aquarium, and I was taken aback by all of the different species of fish in the middle of a mall.”

For every two Sailors out experiencing the local culture in Dubai on Christmas Day, there was one Sailor spending the day onboard Normandy ensuring her safety.
The USO has special holiday programs aimed to alleviate the feelings of being away during the holidays.

“On Christmas day, the USO came on the ship to hand out swag bags, play games with the crew, and hosted a raffle,” said Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Charid Hutchinson, from Buna, Texas. “It definitely boosted morale and may have, just for a minute, helped the Sailors on duty that day forget they were deployed and away from their families for the holidays.”

Hutchinson also said on the other days in port, he went to a nice steakhouse, went sightseeing at the Emirates Mall, and relaxed in a hotel with a gorgeous view of Dubai. He also video chatted with his wife and daughter which made him feel just a little closer while away.

On December 25, Normandy also flew a U.S. flag previously flown over Normandy, France, the location of the largest amphibious invasion in history and the namesake of the ship.

“This flag has been passed down through the Master-at-Arms community for a long time,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Daniel Baraz. “I am not exactly sure where the flag originated or who the original owner was, but it has passed through many hands and traveled many miles.”

This is the fourth port visit of Normandy’s 2019-2020 deployment following a brief stop for fuel in Rota, Spain in early December.

The Normandy is part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

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Date Taken: 12.29.2019
Date Posted: 01.07.2020 08:46
Story ID: 358324

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DISCLAIMER: This article was originally published at the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System Hub ( The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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