Tuesday, June 01, 2010

HSV 2 Delivers Project Handclasp Aid to Panama

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kim Williams, High Speed Vessel Swift 2 Public Affairs

June 1, 2010 - BALBOA-RODMAN, Panama (NNS) -- Sailors from High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) unloaded eight pallets of Project Handclasp supplies in Rodman-Balboa, Panama May 26.

Several local humanitarian organizations met the ship's crew at the pier to collect water filters, hygiene products and food items which the non-governmental organizations will distribute to the less fortunate.

"These materials illustrate the United States Southern Command's commitment to a lasting partnership with the people of Panama," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Simmons, deputy mission commander, Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010.

Swift delivered the supplies as part of the Navy's Project Handclasp program, designed to transport educational, humanitarian and goodwill material on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.

"It is our goal to continue our lasting friendship with Panama long into the future," said Simmons. "It is this friendship that will allow us to work together as partners in security and cooperation."

U.S. military officials explained that the goods distributed at the Panama Project Handclasp event will reach those in the most critical need of aid.

"The advance coordination and cooperation between ODC Panama, Project Handclasp, USAID, Swift and multiple Panamanian non-government organizations allowed us to identify specific communities and customize the most effective goods to donate today," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cory Christensen, Navy/Air Force Section Chief of Office of Defense Cooperation Panama. "Over the past year we have been trying to bring more of a strategic and sustainable focus to distributions of donations, and this was the most successful outcome. USAID will help facilitate training of for different communities receiving the donated water filter systems, which will be a huge resource to areas where they have already targeted this need."

Swift is currently deployed in SPS 2010, an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

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