Guam - The USS Essex is nearing the island, participating in the annual Operation Valiant Shield exercise. The joint exercise includes the Navy, Marines and Air Force in an effort to strengthen regional stability and to enable real-world proficiency when locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land an in cyberspace.

Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares was part of yesterday's group that toured the 844-foot long vessel.  "The importance not just for our safety of the nation, but also for humanitarian needs all within on small floating piece of equipment that the military has floating in the oceans," she said.  

Among the more than 1,000 crew members on the ship is Guam's own Ivan San Nicolas, who is originally from the village of Yigo. Operation Valiant Shield wraps up this week.