PONCE, Puerto Rico (NNS) -- Seventeen Sailors from the Harper's Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) participated in a community relations (COMREL) project with the U.S. Coast Guard at a municipal park in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Oct. 7.
Service members contributed eight hours of park maintenance, tree removal, debris clearing and landscaping as requested by the municipality of Ponce. Local officials marked the park as an area of high importance.
"This was a tremendous opportunity for the Sailors of the USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), working hand in hand with the U.S. Coast Guard to get on the ground and see first-hand the effects of the storms and provide assistance with the clean up efforts," said Cmdr. Nakia Cooper, commanding officer of Oak Hill.
The Sailors demonstrated a great deal of care and concern through their efforts.
"I feel like natural disasters like these are very unfortunate, but the Navy is always ready to lend a hand on the shortest notice," said Seaman Carlos Vogt. "I am very proud of the support that we have provided and I am happy to be able to support my fellow Americans."
Sweat dripping and tired with the wear of the days' work, the Sailors still smiled as they boarded the small boat to return to Oak Hill.
"We are proud to be on land and to have the crew come out to help Puerto Rico," said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Richard Torres. "We have been longing to help out as much as possible, and this was a great way to do it."
Oak Hill remains available and continues to support the relief efforts.
"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of those affected by Hurricane Maria and Irma," said Cooper. "We stand ready to help those in the affected areas and assist in relief and recovery efforts in any way that we can."
Oak Hill is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting FEMA, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.
For more information, visit www.oak-hill.navy.mil.