By Lt. j.g. Alexander Fairbanks, USS Pioneer Public Affairs
The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Pioneer (MCM 9) arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, for a port visit, June 26.
During the visit, Pioneer sailors will engage in community relations events with Madrasah Al-Hikmah School for Stateless and Marginalized Children and Etania School for the Stateless Children. In May, sailors from the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) visited the schools, and this return visit by Pioneer continues to build ties between the United States and people of Kota Kinablu.
The crew will also have the opportunity to participate in “Run Wild: Save our Wildlife,” a fun run designed to raise awareness for endangered wildlife species with several conservation-focused NGOs from around Kota Kinabalu.
“Our sailors are looking forward to meeting their Malaysian counterparts, helping the local schools and interacting with the kids,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Wayland, commanding officer of Pioneer. “We’re all also looking forward to experiencing the natural beauty of Kota Kinabalu.”
Attending the wildlife conservation event will be the mayor of Kota Kinabalu, Datuk Nordin Siman, the State Youth and Sports Minister, Phoong Jin Zhe and U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir. The entire event will be kicked off with a performance by the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band.
Pioneer sailors will also attend an Independence Day reception and celebration with Ambassador Lakhdhir and the guest of honor, Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau.
“I am excited to interact with the kids from the schools and to experience the unique cultural differences from what I am used to in America,” said Information Technician 2nd Class Cristian Duran. “The Run Wild fun run should be cool too, and it’s another chance to interact with local Malaysian people.”
Pioneer is part of Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 and is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. They are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of regional peace and stability.