PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS, 16 MAY, 20-29 MAY,
15 JUNE, 29 JUNE - 13 JULY
Mauritius - the Jones Boys’ “home away from home” was first visited 16 May for a brief fuel stop. Similar to Oahu, Mauritius is a volcanic island approximately 450 miles east of the northern part of the Malagasy Republic. It is thirty—three miles long and twenty—four miles wide at its broadest part. Port Louis, with a population of about 90, 000 is the largest city, only port, and capital of the newly independent island nation. Mauritius obtained independence from Great Britain in March 1968; and due to the closing of the Suez Canal - Mauritius’ geographical position has placed her in a crossroads of Indian Ocean sea lanes. In the past year alone, merchant shipping through Port Louis has doubled.
Atlantic Fleet ships on Indian Ocean patrol regularly relieve each other in Port Louis; but CLAUD JONES is the first Pacific Fleet Ship within memory to be deployed to the Indian Ocean. As trail blazers the Jones Boys made many friends and left many favorable impressions as attested to by the following message:
“During intermittent visits Port Louis, over period last sixty days USS CLAUD JONES set people to people standard difficult for other units to follow. Embassy has received compliments their activities and general presence on island from many sources, from Governor General and Commissioner Police to Boy Scouts. In newly independent Mauritius officers and men this ship have proved outstanding representatives. Charge’d Affaires, U. S. Embassy, Port Louis.” As Mauritius’ physical characteristics are reminiscent of Oahu, so her past also reveals a similarity with our other favorite island, Midway. Mauritius was the home of the now extinct DoDo bird -- an animal very similar to the beloved gooney bird!
The British Navy maintains a communications station, HMS Mauritius, and her men and ladies went out of their way to host the men of CLAUD JONES. A soccer match versus the lady sailors (WRENS) began our visits on the right foot. The good sportsmanship continued when the British used the 4th of July as an excellent “excuse” to throw a party for the Jones Boys. Wi!ie, ladies, and song were in abundance as the British hosted a delightful function, enjoyed by all.
In another light the United States Charge’ d’ Affaires, Mr.
Hussey, invited the wardroom to assist him in an official
Independence Day celebration. It was a true affair of state -
Her Majesty’s Governor General, members of Mauritius’
Parliament, and local businessmen and ladies were in attendance, representing all of the major religions of the world and all of the major cultures of the Indian Ocean.
The Beach Hotel was undoubtedly disappointed when the JONES did not stay around to fill those Christmas and New Year’s reservations. When Mauritius becomes the “Hawaii” of the Indian Ocean, however, the Beach will surely give us first choice when we steam back in for coed season! Some were sad to depart Port Louis, most were looking forward to Mombasa or Australia; nevertheless our stay in Mauritius gave us a regular exposure to a people and to a varied culture which most sailors and most tourists rarely experience. One thing for sure - this is one port of call we won’t forget for a long time.