ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – The multinational training exercise FRUKUS 2012 came to an end with a closing ceremony in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 1.
During the port visit, sailors from French naval vessel De Grasse (D612), Russian naval vessel Yaroslav Mudriy (727), British naval vessel HMS York (90), and guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery, and enjoyed visiting the city’s sights and historical monuments.
“FRUKUS 2012 was great success for all the participants,” said Capt. Kevin Hill, commanding officer of Normandy. “The exercises were challenging, enlightening and yielded results that prove we are capable of achieving regional security and stability through interoperability and determination, and I can think of no greater city in which to celebrate this partnership than beautiful St. Petersburg. I am certain that the crew and I look forward to working with our partners again and to visiting this historic city.”
During the wreath-laying ceremony, multinational sailors honored the fallen heroes who fought in the 900-day Siege of Leningrad during World War II. Each country presented a wreath in honor of the hundreds of thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their city.
“It was truly an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,”said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Rochelle Reed. “To honor those who gave so much means a great deal to me. I feel like I can relate in a small way. It really exemplifies selfless sacrifice.”
Following the ceremony, sailors had the opportunity to explore the city and view its historically-rich monuments and cultural sights, such as the Hermitage Museum, Russian Naval Museum. They also spent time socializing with the community.
“St. Petersburg had so much to offer our Sailors,” said Master Chief Phillip Hallford, Normandy’s command master chief. “There is so much to see in just the Hermitage Museum, that they said if you were to look at every exhibit for one minute each, it would take you 11 years to complete the whole thing. I know that the crew had a great time and that for many of them, this was truly an experience they will never forget.”
FRUKUS is an annual exercise aimed at improving maritime security through an open dialogue and increased training between the navies of France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States.