By MC2 Hunter S. Harwell

USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs

Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) enjoyed a dip in the ocean during a swim call off the ship's well deck, July 20.

The crew had the opportunity to swim in the ocean following the successful completion of the Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) and Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Integrated Training (PMINT) exercise with PHIBRON FOUR and the 26th MEU.

"During a swim call like this it's important to make a memory that's going to last a lifetime," said Lt. Steven Hall, of Iwo Jima's Deck Department. "Regardless all the busy events we've been doing, this is something that these Sailors will always remember."

During the one-hour swim call, crew members took advantage of the rare opportunity to take a dip in the ocean that they operate in. 

"This is my first swim call," said Seaman David Sanchez. "I was looking forward to the experience because we do all types of things in the Navy and we don't really get a chance to take a step back and realize the little things here that build up morale and give us a chance to have a good time.  This was one of those chances and I'm glad I did it."

The ship's stern gate was lowered into the water, transforming the well deck into a swimming platform for the crew.

Iwo Jima's Search and Rescue swimmers, Medical and Weapons Department personnel, and senior Iwo Jima crew members monitored the Sailors swimming to ensure safety throughout the evolution. 

"For this, and any swim call, it's about safety," said Hospitalman Coltin Russell. "We have people on station at various locations, life jackets available for those who can't swim as well as others, and taken every precaution we can to make this fun event a safe one as well."

With safety being established, Sailors were permitted to swim for 20 minutes in 50-man groups, allowing the maximum amount of enjoyment for all participants. 

"This is one of the reasons some of these Sailors joined the Navy," said Hall. "This is a chance to have these adventures and stories and really make this an experience."

Iwo Jima is currently at her homeport of Naval Station Mayport.