Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pakistan Navy trains with Coast Guard VBSS Team

by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brianna K. Dandridge

The sailors underwent training that included visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) techniques, basic shipboard tactical movement, and self-defense in an effort to further enhance regional maritime safety and security in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

According to Pakistan Navy Lt. Ahmed Sher, the skills acquired during the training will continue to benefit Pakistan and will be used by their country’s VBSS teams.

“I will teach the same techniques to my own service,” said Sher. “The tactics learned during this training will be added to current training for our teams in Pakistan.”

U.S. Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Dan Burgoyne, one of the trainers said the Pakistan Navy already had some experience with the procedures, and the course reflected the experience of the students.

“The training program that we have established is intensive,” he said. “We employ a fast-paced combination of classroom and practical training.”

Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) Commanding Officer Commander Scott Bauby said the training demonstrated the effectiveness of coalition operations and maritime protection. He added that the training is essential for both the Pakistani and U.S. militaries.

“This two-week professional exchange provided a great opportunity for our two visit, board, search and seizure teams to share ideas,” said Bauby. “The U.S. Coast Guard and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (MSA) are loyal friends who face many of the same challenges. We look forward to building on this success and strengthening our relationship with the MSA during the coming months.”

U.S. Coast Guard VBSS teams are a part of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, which was re-established in November 2009 to support amphibious forces deployed to the region, mine warfare, contingency response missions, maritime humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Pacific Partnership 2010 Departs Tobelo, Morotai

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Matthew Jackson, Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

TOBELO, Indonesia (NNS) -- Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10) departed Tobelo and Morotai, Indonesia, July 17 concluding four days of operations alongside the people of Indonesia after delivering a variety of humanitarian and civic assistance programs ashore and surgical treatment aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19)

Several distinguished visitors were present to show their support for PP10, including Ir. Hain Namotemo, the bupati (regent) of the Tobelo Regency, and Dr. Andus Said Bajak, the vice of committee.

Commander, PP10, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti gave remarks during the closing ceremony, expressing her thoughts on operations in Tobelo.

"It is hard for me to believe we met here just four days ago, in the same place to open Pacific Partnership 2010 in Indonesia," said Franchetti.

Tobelo, Indonesia, hosted the opening ceremony for PP10 participants just days before. Mercy will be in Indonesia's North Maluku and Maluku Provinces through August 4, conducting disaster response fleet exercises in coordination with the local governments.

"Since then [July 14] many people, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, engineers, volunteers, patients, visitors and a tremendous amount of medical supplies and medicines have crossed the pier in Tobelo, or passed through the sky on our helicopters, taking their spot in the history of Pacific Partnership 10," Franchetti said.

During the disaster relief exercise, PP10 treated approximately 5,700 medical patients ashore, issued 3,900 pairs of glasses, performed more than 50 surgeries and treated more than 150 patients aboard the hospital ship, provided veterinary care for 450 animals, conducted subject matter expert exchanges and made $200,000 dollars worth of repairs to medical equipment.

Namotemo shared his gratitude on behalf of the people of Tobelo for PP10's partnership with them during that past several days.

"As the head of this region, I would like to say thank you to everybody for all the support, good coordination, and everything that you gave for this mission," said Namotemo. "I hope this friendship will bring a good memory for each one of us here. This experience gives us a new dimension to our future."

While medical civic action programs throughout the region offered a wide variety of medical care for local Indonesians, the events were equally beneficial for PP10 medical professionals, said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kahlil Weaver, an optician assigned to Mercy.

"It feels great to actually make a difference in someone's life by providing medical care and then receiving that gratifying smile from them," said Weaver. "I believe this is one of the best things we as Americans, partner nations, and all PP10 participants aboard Mercy have the opportunity to do. Sharing hope is a wonderful thing, and that is what I believe we are doing as a whole."

Community service (COMSERV) projects included a visit to Rumah Sejahtera Orphanage, a soccer game with local Indonesian citizens and a five-kilometer walk/run with North Halmahera Regency civil servants. The COMSERVs brought participants together to enrich partnerships in ways professional operations perhaps do not.

"It has been a lifelong desire of mine to visit and serve at an orphanage," said Lt. Cmdr. Kerry Climo, deputy director of naval medicine, New Zealand Defence Force. "The COMSERV was rewarding for me because play is a universal language that is spoken by all people, young and old. There's no need to exchange words, we all seemed to completely understand each other while playing."

Climo explained how COMSERVs further improve the quality of partnerships.

"These events enrich the quality of partnerships. Working alongside each other is the key to success on a mission such as PP10. All boundaries disappear as soon as you realize that this is not about you…it is about the children you are serving," said Climo.

Having completed medical, dental, surgical, engineering and COMSERV events in Tobelo and Morotai, the hospital ship will transit to Ternate and conduct operations in Ternate, Tidore, Jailolo, Sofifi and Mare Island.

PP10 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors conducted in Indonesia as a disaster relief exercise aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host and partner nations in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Pacific Partnership 2010 Seabees Repair Indonesian Hospital

By Lt. j.g. Nelson Balido, Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

TOBELO, Indonesia (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Seabees completed renovations of a World War II-era Daruba hospital on the island of Morotai in Tobelo, Indonesia, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 15, as part of the Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10) engineering civic action program (ENCAP).

Officials from the local government and hospital staff, PP10 Mission Commander Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti and area residents were on hand for the festive event.

Construction Electrician 2nd Class Jacob Simino, the project's crew leader, said local residents gave the Sailors a warm welcome.

"Pacific Partnership is about showing the people of the host nation that we really care about them. The previous use by Allied forces of this hospital is a historical fact that is in the hearts and minds of the locals no matter what their age," said Simino.

The hospital was built in 1945 and used by Allied Forces in World War II. This renovation program, conducted by the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 from Gulfport, Miss., is vital to the people in the surrounding area.

Some of the work included roof repairs, replacing more than 2,500 square feet of tile, new windows and doors; installation of electrical fixtures; refinishing the interior and exterior walls; painting the entire structure inside and out; and cleaning up the landscape.

There was never a moment when the renovation crew was without an audience. Local children played close by, occasionally inviting the Seabees to play soccer. The hospital's nurses and physicians excitedly peeked in the building to see the miraculous transformation it had undergone in just a few short weeks.

"This has truly been a rewarding experience," said Utilitiesman 2nd Class Anthony Sheffield. "It's not every day that you get to work in a place where the people truly appreciate what you are doing; I am going to miss them."

Currently, the hospital serves 15,000 residents on the island. The staff includes two doctors, one dentist and 39 nurses. This extension will bring back to service various areas that were dilapidated.

This clinic, like most PP10 exercise project sites that are in need of renovations or related work, is co-determined by the host nation government and the ENCAP team leadership.

The Seabees worked long days to meet the tight completion schedule. The renovations will affect more than 1,000 patients per month, providing them with a clean and safe environment for services.

Builder 3rd Class John Richard Gernhard said despite difficulties in getting materials to such a remote location, the work went well.

"The best part of all is that this building will be used for another 50 years, and the kids we play soccer with will be able to get proper access to health care. That alone is worth what we are doing," said Gernhard.

The ENCAP is part of PP10, the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors conducted in Indonesia as a disaster relief exercise aimed at strengthening regional partnerships and increasing interoperability with U.S. interagency, host nations, partner nations and international humanitarian and relief organizations.

PP10 has included visits to Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Thirty Truman Sailors Earn Warfare Pins

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonnie Hobby, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Thirty USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Sailors were awarded enlisted surface warfare specialist (ESWS) and enlisted aviation warfare specialist (EAWS) designations during a pinning ceremony July 16.

Earning a warfare qualification represents a milestone in a Sailor's career and signifies professionalism, dedication and Navy pride along with making a service member more competitive for advancement.

The pinning ceremony marks the first of what Truman leadership hopes will be many mass warfare pinning ceremonies during the aircraft carrier's deployment. Electronics Technician Senior Chief (SW/AW) Michael Callaway, Truman's command ESWS coordinator, said leadership felt it was important to make the ceremony a command function.

"They wanted all the folks in the audience to be able to see their shipmates getting pinned," he said. "Sailors who spent time working with them or who eat with them on the mess decks will see them and think, 'If they can do it, so can I.'"

Machinist Mate 3rd Class (SW/AW) Kara Harris spent six months working on her EAWS qualification, and said she believes the hard work in earning the qualification was worth the sacrifice.

"I worked hard to get this pin, and it felt good to be recognized by the upper-chain of command," she said. "I think my chief was very proud of me. Other than my mentor, he was the one who supported me the most while I was working on this qualification."

Callaway said the commanding officer, command master chief and warfare program coordinators brainstormed for hours to decide when, where and how the ceremony should occur to make it a memorable experience for the awardees.

"A lot of thought went into deciding how we should do it," said Callaway. "You only get pinned once, and we wanted the ceremony to be special for the Sailors who worked hard to achieve their goal."

The new warfare specialists were able to choose the person to pin their qualification. Many Sailors said that the ability to select the mentor who had a positive impact on their Naval career and contributed to their professional development made the experience more meaningful.

"I liked that we were able to pick the person to pin us as opposed to somebody we don't really know or who didn't directly interact with us," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW) Angeli Ancho, one of 20 Sailors earning the ESWS pin. "Being recognized by the captain and your peers for such an accomplishment—especially for the junior Sailors—is a very important and motivating thing."

Shoup, Momsen Train for Strike Group Operations

By Lt. Jacquelyn R. Bengfort, USS Shoup (DDG 86) Public Affairs

USS SHOUP, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Shoup (DDG 86) and USS Momsen (DDG 92) departed Naval Station Everett, Wash., July 15 to participate in a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group.

The intermediate level battle group exercise is designed to forge together the battle group and its components into a fully functional fighting team.

The exercise is a critical part of the strike group's pre-deployment training designed to train the ship, embarked air wing and other units that make up the carrier strike group to function as one highly effective fighting force.

"It's invigorating to be steaming south, since these exercises are the culmination of everything we've been working toward," said Lt. j.g. Janel Hansen, Shoup's newest officer of the deck. "This is really the last step before we deploy and see these scenarios in the real world."

During the exercise, the strike group will simulate the type of scenarios that could be faced while deployed. The outcome will certify the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group for open-ocean operations and moves the strike group forward within the fleet response plan, allowing the Navy to deploy a flexible naval force capable of surging quickly.

Shoup and Momsen wasted no time once at sea, using July 15 afternoon to practice counter-piracy operations and small boat attack responses. Additionally, Shoup received training in electronic charting procedures from Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific and began a multi-day mock engineering inspection with the help of Regional Support Organization Pacific Northwest.

"This is the opportunity to show our strike group commander that Shoup is ready to deploy, and we're all in," said Lt. Paul Willis, Shoup's combat systems officer. "Above, on and below the sea, Shoup is prepared to do the nation's work, and our Sailors are up for the challenge."

Shoup is homeported in Everett, Wash. The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is also comprised of Carrier Air Wing 2, Destroyer Squadron 9 and the USS Cape St. George (CG 71).

Pacific Partnership 2010 Completes First MEDCAP in Indonesia

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Brian Gaines, Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

TOBELO, Indonesia (NNS) -- Pacific Partnership 2010 completed its first medical civic action program (MEDCAP) at the Negeri School in Tobelo, Indonesia, July 17 during the first leg of the mission's Indonesia visit.

The medical personnel attached to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) kicked off the MEDCAP by treating approximately 600 patients on the first day of operations.

"We saw and treated a wide variety of ailments," said Cmdr. Bharat Patel, officer-in-charge of the Negeri site. "In optometry, we discovered a lot of cataracts, some of which will require surgery to correct. We also saw a lot of infections, colds and injuries. In pediatrics, we saw the entire gamut, from inner ear infections to more serious medical conditions."

The patients were highly organized throughout their visit to the clinic. From check-in to discharge, the crowd moved efficiently through the MEDCAP site. "It was in part due to our streamlined system, and partly due to cultural etiquette," said Patel. "I have noticed a great respect for elders in the community. Earlier today, a crowd formed at the entrance and an elderly man spoke up and suddenly a single file line had formed."

In addition to the MEDCAPs offered by Pacific Partnership, military and civilian medical professionals also offered dental and veterinary civic action programs. Dental personnel were on hand to provide oral care to the local population. This was a unique opportunity for Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Stephanie Agirre, a Reservist stationed in Tucson, Ariz., as this was her first dental civic action program.

"We have done a lot of tooth extractions in the heat today," said Agirre. "However, this is a great opportunity and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Over the course of the three-day MEDCAP at Negeri, there were subject matter expert exchanges between those embarked aboard Mercy and members of the Ministry of Health, as well as renovations to the school during an engineering civic action program. Those involved in Pacific Partnership 2010 are given the unique opportunity to work by, with and through the host nation at their invitation. The Negeri site was unique in that there were several programs going on simultaneously.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors conducted in Indonesia as a disaster relief exercise to strengthen regional partnerships between the U.S., partner and host nations and international humanitarian and relief organizations.

To date, Pacific Partnership 2010 has included visits to Vietnam and Cambodia. While in Indonesia, Pacific Partnership will stop in the areas of Tobelo and Morotai, Ternate and Ambon.