NEPLY, Haiti (NNS) -- Sailors from amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry have supported projects in the communities of Neply, Birey, Baie de Grande Gaove, Petit Gaove, and the island community of Lugonave, Haiti, since Jan. 19 in coordination with local nongovernmental organizations.
Sailors have participated in Sailor Ashore Missions (SAMs) to help Haitians after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12.
"It feels really good to organize these kinds of projects," said Lt. Stephen Warne, ship's chaplain. "These are the kind of volunteer opportunities that are easy to fill because people really want to get out there and help."
More than 122 Sailors from Fort McHenry and embarked units spent six days on a total of nine projects this week. Some of these included clearing rubble from destroyed buildings, and slabs where two houses once stood, rebuilding a damaged roof on another home and helping missionaries to sort and salvage material from a badly damaged church.
"This type of mission is especially close to someone working in the medical field, or as a chaplain," said Warne. "This is sort of a calling, and it's important to me to get these Sailors out here to help, because they want to help and it helps morale too."
Warne said these projects are a great opportunity for Sailors to feel like they are making a difference.
"I've had a lot of people actually come up to me afterward, and say 'I didn't think I was going to work so hard,'" said Warne. "I think that's because once they get ashore with the Haitian people and see how much work needs to be done they're just that much more motivated to make a difference."
Warne said there are already plans for more SAMs for Fort McHenry Sailors and his goal is to get teams out there for at least three projects each week for the duration of the relief mission.
The Fort McHenry team includes the ship's crew, members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, Assault Craft Unit 2, Beach Masters Unit 2, and Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadrons 6 and 4.
Fort McHenry is currently participating in Operation Unified Response as part of USS Bataan Amphibious Relief Mission, providing military support capabilities to civil authorities to help stabilize and improve the situation in Haiti.
For more news about relief efforts in Haiti, visit http://www.navy.mil/haiti/index.html.
For more news from USS Fort McHenry, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lsd43/.