Friends, Family Experience Life at Sea Aboard Fitzgerald

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Abby Rader, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan

SOUTH OF JAPAN – Friends and families of Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) received a firsthand look at Navy life underway during a friends and family day cruise, May 24.

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Eric Cruz, from Whittier, Calif., right, and his daughter look through the “big-eyes” during a friends and family day cruise aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Abby Rader

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Eric Cruz, from Whittier, Calif., right, and his daughter look through the “big-eyes” during a friends and family day cruise aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62).
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Abby Rader

The eight-hour at-sea offered guests a rare opportunity to experience what it is like to be underway and observe Sailors in action.

“These friends and family day cruises are very important for our Sailors so that we can give a glimpse of what our life is like at sea to our loved ones,” said Cmdr. Jonathan Schmitz, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer. “This is a way for us to show them how much we appreciate what they do for us when we are underway.”

Guests had the chance to participate in various activities during the day-long cruise, which included ship tours, knot tying, flag signaling, and a traditional steel-beach picnic. They also had the opportunity to witness Sailors working throughout the ship.

“Days like today allow our friends and families to see how hard we work, and it is really important for us to show them what the Navy is all about,” said Ensign Hunter Van Hook, ordnance officer aboard Fitzgerald and co-coordinator of the friends and family day cruise.

At the end of the day, participants of the cruise were recognized during a ceremony where they received certificates and a group photo in remembrance of their time on Fitzgerald.

“An experience like this may only be for a few hours, but it’s worth every minute, just to have the loved ones of the crew feel what it’s like to be surrounded by the ocean and all your shipmates,” said Schmitz. “Something that we get to experience on a normal basis may seem small to us, but to those who don’t, it can be a pretty big thing.”

Fitzgerald is one of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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