LA CEIBA, Honduras (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Doyle (FFG 39) departed La Ceiba, Honduras May 26 following a five-day port visit.
Doyle crew members participated in professional exchanges with the Honduran military, a community relations (COMREL) project, military ceremonies, and a soccer game.
"These exercises benefit our mission by establishing a learning environment with the Honduran Navy in damage control techniques for both our Sailors and the foreign military," said Lt. j.g. Geoff Hensley, Doyle's damage control assistant. "There are differences and similarities in a few of our techniques but our goals and duties are the same. We have learned a lot from them and we were very fortunate to have done this."
Doyle Sailors also participated in damage control and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) exercises with the Honduran military, as well as deck landing qualifications with the U.S. Army.
"We benefited from this training," said Honduran officers, Lt.j.g. Hector Castellanos. "The basic ideas are the same, but we do a few things differently. The SCBA demonstration was interesting as we don't use bottles but masks that filter the air. This has given us a new perspective on principles we can use for our own military."
Honduran officials, including Andrea Brouillette-Rodriguez, political counselor to the U.S. Embassy; Honduran Gov. Ilsa Lorena Torres; Mayor Joes Milton Simon Gonzalez, and a number of distinguished guests from both the U.S. and the Honduran military toured Doyle.
Doyle's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. John M. Zuzich and guests then attended a Project Handclasp ceremony at a local military academy.
"We share many common interests, including our focus on COMREL and Project Handclasp," said Zuzich. "We need cooperative solutions for lasting partnerships and COMREL projects emphasize this. We are fortunate to have a strong relationship with Honduras."
The COMREL project in Honduras was located at a small two-room school, La Fraternidad, with an enrollment of about 200 students. Volunteers from Doyle and the Honduran military repainted the entire building, made needed repairs, and supplied students with medical and hygiene products.
Doyle Sailors experienced Honduran culture during a carnival which occurs during the last weeks of May in La Ceiba. Hondurans travel from miles around to participate in the annual festival which brings approximately 400,000 Hondurans to La Ceiba.
"The festival was amazing," said Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class Brandon Crabtree. "The food here is incredible and the people are extremely hospitable. This is the first time in over twenty years that the U.S. Navy has made a visit to La Ceiba and I definitely think it was a positive one. Not only did we have a good time during liberty, but we also benefited from building a stronger relationship with the Honduran community."
Honduras was the second port visited for Doyle's Southern Seas deployment and signified the vibrant relationship between Honduras and the United States. Southern Seas is part of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)'s Partnership of the America strategy, and focuses on strengthening relationships in the SOUTHCOM region. This year's deployment includes Doyle, USS Kauffman (FFG 59), and USS Ford (FFG 54), with Destroyer Squadron 40 as the command element.
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