Monday, December 19, 2011

Seabees Honored in El Salvador during Southern Partnership Station 2012

By Spc. Jennifer Grier, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

LA UNION, El Salvador (NNS) -- A recognition ceremony was held Dec. 15, at Centro Escolar Gregorio Alvarez Nunez in honor of U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 23 Seabees embarked aboard High Speed Vessel (HSV 2) Swift.

The ceremony was held in appreciation for the completion of a seven-day construction project as part of HSV-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (HSV-SPS 12).

"This ceremony was a great opportunity to bring everyone together and gives a real chance for the communities of El Salvador to interact," said Samuel Iglesias, La Union's representative to the Minister of Education. "This ceremony honors something really wonderful for everyone, especially the kids."

This project was led by project manager Utilities Man 1st Class Patrick Koelle. The team of Seabees completed minor electrical repairs, renovated the school kitchen and an outdoor pavilion, and performed structural and aesthetic maintenance at the site. Seabees painted a basketball backboard and built steps to the basketball court, making a safer environment for the children.

"To see how grateful the teachers and administrators are is really rewarding," said Koelle. "It makes this job all worth it, and I'm very proud of how it all turned out in the end. This shows the hard work my team put into this and leaves a lasting impact with the school that we can all remember."

The team refurbished the school kitchen by building and repairing walls, adding a new roof, and installing a sink, stove vent and brick cooking area. Two-hundred feet of piping was also placed to service the new kitchen sink.

Ricardo Jimenez, the school's principal, attended the ceremony.

"My favorite part of this whole thing is to see a positive response within my community," said Jimenez. "Giving brand new facilities to my school built by U.S. service members, is really an amazing thing to be a part of and upon seeing the final product, I know this will provide for generations to come."

This is the first of two Seabee projects in El Salvador, where U.S. Seabees have been working closely with Salvadoran service members who specialize in construction.

The construction project is one event during the three-week HSV-SPS 12 partnership with El Salvador. Service members from each of the armed services are working with the host nation partners, exchanging information regarding medical and veterinary practices, small unit leadership, and port security.

Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with partner nation service members and civilians in the region.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) support U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

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