Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) arrived in Souda Bay, Greece, for a scheduled port visit, Jan. 30.

The port visit is part of Leyte Gulf’s planned mid-deployment voyage repair (MDVR) maintenance period and allows Leyte Gulf Sailors much-deserved leisure time while taking in the sights, art, history and food of Crete.

“We are elated to return to Souda Bay,” said Capt. Michael Weeldreyer, commanding officer of Leyte Gulf. “The time in port will be used to conduct needed maintenance and enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation, not to mention continue to foster our friendships with partner nations.”

Ships require preventative and regular maintenance to operate reliably, much of which is completed underway. However, some maintenance items must be completed pierside due to work requirements or parts. Planned MDVRs allow U.S. ships to complete these corrective and preventative repairs to ensure the ship remains fully mission-capable throughout the entire deployment.

While in port, Sailors will also have the opportunity to engage with the local community by participating in a series of community relations (COMREL) events at a local dog shelter where the Sailors will assist in improving the shelter grounds and animal socialization, as well as picking oranges for local orphanages.

“The COMRELs provided to us are such a great opportunity to not only provide a service to the locals, but spend time in a country doing something that we wouldn’t normally do,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Gwendolyn Juel, assigned to Leyte Gulf. “We get to work hand-in-hand with people that I would normally not have the opportunity to. I am really grateful for the opportunity and experience. I look forward to more in the future.”

Leyte Gulf, homeported in Norfolk, is attached to the USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike group (CSG) and is operating in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations as part of a scheduled deployment.