Port Royal Sailor reunites with Merchant Marine mom

Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Charlene Blanks (left) poses with her mother, Estrella Apolinar, on board Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8), while alongside guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73). U.S. Navy photo

Ensign Emma Mattson

USS Port Royal (CG 73) Public Affairs

USS PORT ROYAL, At Sea A Sailor assigned to guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) was briefly reunited with her mother aboard Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8).

Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Charlene Blanks reunited with her mother, Estrella Apolinar, a civil service mariner stationed aboard Wally Schirra, for the first time in more than a year while the two ships conducted a replenishment at sea (RAS) in the Arabian Gulf.

The RAS was the second one Port Royal conducted with Wally Schirra in a week. During the first RAS, Blanks sent a Port Royal ball cap to her mother on the rig. When the master of Wally Schirra, civil service Capt. Richard Cicchetti, saw Apolinar proudly sporting her ball cap, he learned that her daughter was deployed with Port Royal.

Following the first RAS with Port Royal, Cicchetti coordinated a family reunion aboard his ship with Port Royal’s commanding officer, Navy Capt. Eric Weilenman, and Command Master Chief Michael Fasano.

They coordinated a special flight with Helicopter AntiSubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37, the embarked helicopter squadron aboard Port Royal, to fly Blanks over to the ship prior to the RAS.

The visit offered a welcome surprise for the Port Royal Sailor, who is nearing the half-way point of an eight-month deployment.

“I thank Wally Schirra’s captain and our captain for giving me the chance to see my mom. I’m glad that she’s doing well and she’s happy,” Blanks said.

Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant, Merchant Mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners. Schirra is on a routine deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Port Royal is conducting maritime security operations and missions while deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

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Category: News