Friday, July 06, 2012

HSV Swift Departs Tanzania

By Ensign Joe Keiley, HSV 2 Swift Public Affairs

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (NNS) -- High-Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) left Dar es Salaam after a 12-day port visit in Tanzania after conducting training as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East 2012, July 5.

During the two-week visit, Swift Sailors and embarked personnel conducted training workshops with more than 100 members of the Tanzanian People's Defense Force (TPDF) covering leadership, port security, environmental protection, infantry tactics and medical skills.

 "There are some instances that you can't anticipate, and these classes help us learn different lessons," said Lt. Frank Kavalambi, a TPDF officer. "I took the port security class the first week and the environmental workshop this week, so I've gotten a great deal out of this, and I hope we can continue participating in these types of events."

Swift's crew painted the classroom walls at Kinondoni Muslim High School and participated in a soccer match with the students.

 "When we showed the school's administrator the classroom, his eyes lit up when he saw the finished product. There was no need for a translation for that reaction," said Lt. Jason Meyers, a member of Maritime Partnership Program (MPP) Tanzania detachment.

Swift's personnel also shared their culture with the locals by celebrating America's Independence Day on the flight deck of Swift with a cookout and fireworks display. Members of U.S. Naval Forces Europe band "Flagship" participated in several events and Swift's crew offloaded pallets which included wheelchairs for the disabled, books for children and water filters.

"Sometimes we get so mission-focused just making sure the pallets are transferred safely off the ship that we forget these items are going to help people that need it, so it was great to be reminded of that by the people we spoke with," said Lt. Cmdr. Ted Kopinski, MPP detachment team member. "Hearing about the impact of what these wheelchairs will mean for some of the people in the area really brought it home for me."

Swift, a Military Sealift Command-chartered High Speed Vessel, is making port calls throughout Africa in support of APS and theater security cooperation (TSC) visits.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

Underwood Sailors Conduct Subject Matter Expert Exchange with Colombian Navy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stuart Phillips, Southern Seas 2012 Public Affairs

BAHIA MALAGA, Colombia (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) spent time working alongside their Colombian counterparts as they made repairs on the Colombian cutter Valle del Cauca while moored in Bahia Malaga, Colombia July 3.

The Colombian and U.S. Sailors were able to achieve a number of goals as they combined their experience and expertise to address electrical and mechanical issues aboard the cutter over a period of three days in port in Bahia Malaga.

"We went over to the Colombian ship to work with them as they repaired some of their equipment," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Aldo Rodriguez, who volunteered to help out on the Valle del Cauca. "We worked on their capstan, their air conditioning, their carry, hold and transit [sewage system] and a couple of their gauges."

Sailors from the two navies also worked together restoring lights on the Valle del Cauca's flight deck.

"We brought their flight deck lighting up to about 80 percent, so now they'll be able to conduct night operations on their flight deck," said Electrician's Mate 3rd Class (SW) John Prokop, who also volunteered to work with the Colombian sailors.

The subject matter expert exchange has been an opportunity for sailors from both navies to learn more about their own job specialties from each other.

"I think working with the Colombian navy has helped strengthen our partnership," said Prokop. "We traded expertise as we taught each other a lot of things on the electrical side about different systems they have on their ship and I've also been able to show them some in-depth things that I know about electrical schematics, tracing out wires and performing troubleshooting and repairs."

Working side-by-side with their Colombian counterparts proved to be a good way for the U.S. Sailors to get to know members of another country's navy.

"We talk about our families and the differences between our navies as we work together," said Rodriguez, who speaks Spanish fluently. "But I think my favorite part has been the food they have shared with us. It is outstanding. Even the rice just seems to have so much more flavor. They have a dish called 'sancocho' that is like a soup comprised of beef, chicken, potatoes, corn and rice. It reminds me of home cooking."

"My favorite part of this has been the experience of going over to a different navy's ship," said Prokop. "I went over in a RHIB [rigid-hull inflatable boat] one of the days and just going over and seeing a different type of lifestyle and getting to work with other sailors as they make repairs on their ship was a good experience that I'm going to keep with me for the rest of my life."

Underwood is deployed to Central and South America and the Caribbean in support of Southern Seas 2012.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM 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.

Vice Chief Thanks Boston and Sailors for Navy Week Support

By Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

BOSTON (NNS) -- The vice chief of naval operations (VCNO) met with Boston city officials and U.S. Sailors July 5 to thank them for their hardwork work during Boston Navy Week.

Adm. Mark Ferguson met with Mayor Thomas Menino at Boston City Hall to thank him for the warm hospitality that the city showed Sailors while USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS Gravely (DDG 107) were in port for Navy Week.

"Boston is a Navy town with a rich maritime heritage dating back to the earliest days of the American colonies," said Ferguson. "Throughout this week, the citizens of Boston, state and city governments and area businesses have treated our Sailors with warm hospitality."

A celebration of the nation's sea services, Boston Navy Week provides an opportunity for the citizens of Boston and New England to meet Sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen, as well as see the latest capabilities of today's maritime services firsthand.

"Our Sailors have greatly enjoyed their visit," said Ferguson. "This week has been a success in sharing America's Navy with Boston and celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812."

Ferguson also visited Wasp and Gravely to say thank you to their crews for the work they did to showcase America's Navy to the thousands of local visitors who toured the ships and interacted with Sailors.

Wasp and Gravely participation in Boston Navy Week from June 28 to July 6, gave their Sailors the opportunity to tour the city and interact with locals, as well as participate in community relations events.

"I could not be more proud of the Sailors who represented our Navy during Boston Navy Week," said Ferguson. "They were the embodiment of our values of professionalism, service, honor, and integrity, and were outstanding ambassadors for the naval service."

Boston Navy Week is one of many signature events around the country commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and "The Star-Spangled Banner." The commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is a salute to all Sailors and Marines who fought gallantly in that conflict, who served in all the nation's conflicts since then, and who continue defending freedom around the world today.

Since winning independence in 1776, the United States has been a maritime nation, relying on unobstructed access and free use of the world's oceans, which are essential to our national security and prosperity. The performance of America's Sailors and Marines in the War of 1812 set the standards upon which the nation's naval forces continue to build today.

For more information, visit the official Boston Navy Week Web site at or search "Boston Navy Week" on Facebook.

Family Matters Blog: Grant Sends Military Teens to Washington

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2012 – As Americans were preparing last week to celebrate America’s 236th birthday, hundreds of teenagers from military families were treated to three days of fun and learning here in the nation’s capital.

About 600 teenagers who participate in Boys & Girls Clubs of America in or around military installations flew in with about a hundred of their mentors for “Operation Washington,” a first-time event co-sponsored by BGCA and the Close Up Foundation as part of a partnership grant from the Departments of Defense and Justice, said Kevin McCartney, BGCA’s vice president of government relations.

The program allowed the teens to see in person those symbols of democracy for which their parents fight, and for which they, too, have sacrificed through frequent moves and dealing with deployed parents.

These were no ordinary tours of the Capitol and Washington’s other monuments. Under Close Up’s civics curriculum, the teens’ visit to the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials included a discussion about the role and responsibilities of citizens during wartime. Their tour of the Capitol included meeting with their congressional representatives, and a trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial came with a discussion of civil rights and citizens’ roles in shaping public policy.

Through it all, the teens took part in group discussions about the appropriate size and role of government in a democracy, states versus the federal government, and an in-depth simulation of the legislative process. The teens also met with Attorney Gen. Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as well as senior Defense Department and White House officials, McCartney said.

“Close Up is really a hands-on experience here in Washington, D.C. It’s a very organized curriculum,” he said. “Everything has education and civics attached to it.”

The participants also were charged with developing a plan to address important issues in their own communities. Judging by their reaction to being in Washington, it sounds like they will do just that.

“These kids were outstanding, and they truly were grateful for this,” McCartney said.

Ponce Arrives In Bahrain

From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

MINA SALMAN PIER, Bahrain (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's first afloat forward staging base-interim, USS Ponce (AFSB-I), arrived in Bahrain for duty in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), July 6.

Prior to arriving in theater, Ponce, formerly designated as an amphibious transport dock (LPD), was converted and reclassified as an AFSB(I) in April to fulfill a long-standing U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) request for an AFSB to be located in its AOR.

"Ponce's role as an AFSB provides us with an enhanced capability to conduct maritime security operations, and gives us greater flexibility to support a wide range of contingencies with our regional partners," said Vice Adm. John Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).

Ponce's primary mission is to support mine countermeasures (MCM) operations and other missions, such as the ability to provide repair service to other deployed units, including electrical, diesel engine, piping, and machinery repairs. Additionally, Ponce also has the capability to embark and launch small riverine craft.

Commanded by a U.S. Navy captain, Ponce will remain a U.S. Navy ship. The newly classed AFSB will be manned by a "hybrid" crew consisting of approximately 150 Military Sealift Command (MSC) civilian mariners and 55 U.S. Navy Sailors. Sailors will be primarily responsible for the ship operations. MSC personnel will man the engineering, deck and damage control departments.

"The versatility of Ponce, combined with the teamwork of its 'hybrid' crew, brings a unique capability to the region." said Capt. Jon Rodgers, commanding officer of Ponce. "As the first dedicated afloat forward staging base, we look forward to working closely with our coalition and regional partners to promote security and stability."

Ponce departed its homeport of Norfolk, Va., June 1. Previously scheduled to decommission, Ponce delayed its scheduled decommissioning to serve as an interim AFSB until a permanent solution can be identified.