USS Cole completes security cooperation port visits in Finland, Estonia

ATLANTIC OCEAN — Ensign Francis Dore, the navigator aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67), reviews navigational charts with commanding officer Cmdr. Edward Devinney. Cole recently completed Exercise Joint Warrior 09-2 and is continuing routine operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Bookwalter)

TALLINN, Estonia — Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) recently completed theater security cooperation port visits in Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia, Oct. 21-27.

The visits come after Cole's participation in Exercise Joint Warrior 09-2, a multilateral exercise with various international partners.

Cole's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Edward Devinney greeted the Mayor of Helsinki Jussi Pajunen shortly after pulling into the port. Pajunen welcomed Cole and exchanged gifts with Devinney. He said it was an honor for the ship to be in Helsinki, and he hoped the sailors would have a wonderful visit.

Sailors had the opportunity to experience a historically rich culture and interact with locals during their stay in Finland's capitol. Cole's Morale, Welfare and Recreation program offered a tour of the city, which included a sightseeing tour of Finlandia Hall, Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral and a tour of one of the largest sea fortresses in the world, the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

"It was an honor for the Cole to be in Finland," Devinney said. "The crew has been looking forward to this visit for quite some time."

Cole hosted a reception in Helsinki, which was joined by Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Africa and Allied Joint Forces Command Naples.

"It is truly great to be here," Fitzgerald said. "We do a lot of work partnering with Finland, and I think it is a great partnership. The capabilities that Finland brings are truly a benefit to the alliance and to the U.S."

Fitzgerald thanked Cole sailors for their commitment as ambassadors of the U.S. while visiting Finland.

"I think having the USS Cole here to help to continue to cement this relationship and work as true partners with each other is of great benefit to the U.S. Navy and our allies," Fitzgerald said. "I really appreciate the great support, teamwork and partnership from Cole."

Immediately following the departure from Helsinki, Cole arrived in Tallinn, Estonia, a few hours later. Tallinn is the capitol of Estonia and is situated on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki.

The main attractions for sailors are in the two old towns, called Lower Town and Toompea. Both are easily explored on foot and are some of the best preserved old towns in Europe. Sailors had the opportunity to visit famous sights such as Raekoja plats, St. Olaf church, and the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

"A lot of sailors join the Navy to see the world," Devinney said. "I really wanted the crew to maximize these port visits and take in the different cultures and have a great time doing that."

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