Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Swift Wraps Up Personnel Exchanges in Barbados

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael Leslie, High Speed Vessel Swift Public Affairs

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (NNS) -- Sailors, Marines and Airmen deployed aboard High Speed Vessel Swift 2 brought three weeks of subject matter expert (SME) exchanges to an end with a closing ceremony at Pelican Coast Guard Base in Bridgetown, Barbados Aug. 26.

The exchanges are in direct support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010's primary mission of information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services in U.S. Southern Command's Area of Responsibility throughout the Caribbean and Central America.

"This marks three weeks of cooperation, sharing and learning," said Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Reese, of the Barbados coast guard, during a speech at the ceremony. "The exchange was a wonderful opportunity to show we can work together, even though we're from different nations, different ranks and different militaries. It allowed us to interact and exchange knowledge in a wide variety of subjects."

Exchanges included maintenance management, land navigation, martial arts, port and physical security, fiberglass repair, small boat operations fundamentals and leadership.

"A lot of effort has been spent in developing our military members and that work has been done so we can ensure the safety of our nation," said Brandon Watson, regional security coordinator for Barbados. "These subject areas are crucial to the professional development of the participants, now and in the future."

This was Swift's third visit to Barbados and according to James Goggin, of the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the exchanges go a long way toward strengthening maritime security in the region.

"One of the many goals of this mission is to increase regional security," said Goggin. "This was a tangible demonstration of the cooperation between the U.S. and the seven nations of the Caribbean to ensure safety in the region. All of the Swift exchange teams have done an outstanding job."

The teams included facilitators from the ship's Navy crew, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a Maritime Civil Affairs Security Training Security Force Assistance detachment, and the Marine Corps Training Advisory Group.

During Swift's stay in Barbados, the crew also re-painted an auditorium at a local elementary school, provided tours of the ship to many local community groups and played various sports with members of the Barbados Defense Force in their off time.

Swift is scheduled to continue its support of SPS 2010 through early fall and plans to return to Barbados for further SME exchanges during its next SPS deployment.

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