By USS Ross Public Affairs
U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Albania Donald Lu, the Republic of Albania Deputy Defense Minister Petro Koci, the Republic of Albania Chief of Defense Maj. Gen. Bardhyl Kollcku, and Albanian officials visited the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) for a reception on the ship’s flight deck during a scheduled port visit in Vlore, Albania, Feb. 10, 2018.
Ross hosted the reception after the two countries finished an Adriatic war-at-sea exercise focusing on anti-small craft and high-speed maneuvering tactics Feb. 7.
“We are very proud of the cooperation between Albania and the United States, both through NATO and in direct cooperation,” said Koci. “I know that fighting for peace and stability is not a paradise, but working together with commitment, with professionalism, we’ll be the hell of the enemies of our values.”
During the visit, officials and military members toured Ross’ bridge, missile decks and fo’c’sle.
Lu said the tour reminded him of a tour he received as a child and the respect for the military that tour instilled in him.
“My cub scout troop visited the Long Beach naval shipyard and we got a tour of a big naval ship,” said Lu. “That ship reminds me a lot of USS Ross. I can remember climbing down the stairs as a 10-year-old and walking into a room looking over the propeller. They talked to us about the weapons and the technology and where the Sailors slept and ate and how this big ship could help protect our country. And at that very young age, it gave me a real respect for the men and women who serve in the military.”
Lu also said that through Ross’ port visit to Vlore, Sailors would have a chance to explore a piece of Albania and get to know the Albanian people.
“As NATO allies, we are so honored to be able to have our ship visit here, for the men an women of the USS Ross to explore the hospitality of this beautiful city and to get to know this culture”, said Lu.
Ross’ crew prepared for the visit for nearly a week ensuring every part of the ship, both inside and out, was ready for the reception.
“We were incredibly honored to host Deputy Defense Minister Koci and Maj. Gen. Kollcku as well as Ambassador Lu and show off Ross and the crew,” said Cmdr. Bryan S. Gallo, commanding officer of Ross. “The Sailors aboard Ross did an amazing job getting the ship ready, preparing the reception, cooking the food and just being the diplomats they are. I couldn’t have asked for a better showing from them.”
Before eating, Koci delivered remarks to the crew of Ross.
“Next time you visit, waiting for you will be the heart of the Albanian people, the people of Vlore and, of course, the hearts of every woman and man in the uniform of the Albanian armed forces,” said Koci.
Ross is anchored outside of Vlore, Albania, for a scheduled port visit after departing Naval Station Rota, Spain, Jan. 8, 218, for its sixth patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of regional allies and partners and U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.