MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) arrived in Mayport, Fla., March 8, marking the completion of its four-month HSV-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (HSV-SPS 12) mission.
While on deployment, Swift visited the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Panama and Haiti, working with local communities, governments and militaries to build partnerships throughout Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
All branches of the U.S. military service are represented on board Swift. Specialists from the Seabees, the Marines Corps, medical and veterinary fields, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Expeditionary Security Team (EST), and Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) were aboard Swift for this mission.
"This deployment gave the crew of the Swift an opportunity to work side-by-side with our partner nations," said Cmdr. Garry Wright, HSV-SPS 12 mission commander. "Each port we pulled into represented a new culture and perspective, and learning from these experiences makes us better Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and Airmen."
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB 23) and Marines from U.S. Marine Forces South (MARFORSOUTH) completed construction projects in each port stop. The team refurbished or rebuilt nine schools, one medical clinic and two recreation facilities, working with more than 60 partner engineers from Guatemala, Peru and Indonesia. The 12 projects totaled $81,000 and will impact more than 5,000 students throughout South and Central America, and the Caribbean.
"The work we did will have a lasting impact on the communities we visited," said Chief Construction Electrician Andrew Nickerson, assistant-officer in charge (AOIC) of the NMCB 23 detachment. "In each community we met the students and the teachers at our worksites. The friendships we made will stay with us after this deployment."
Marines from Swift completed a total of 416 hours of work with 178 Marines, Airman, Naval Special Forces and National police. The subject matter expert exchange covered topics including land navigation, marksmanship, first aid, leadership, and human rights. The partnerships included Dominican airmen and marines; Salvadoran marines; Guatemalan special forces and paratroopers; Peruvian marines and Haitian national police.
"It was great to operate with the marines and special forces from the countries we visited," said, U.S. Marine Cpl. Bradley Brower, assigned to the HSV-SPS 12 Marine detachment. "Every marine corps we worked with reinforced what it means to be a Marine."
Swift's three-person Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) worked with 222 military security and law enforcement officials during the deployment. The team focused on identifying suspicious persons, inspecting buildings and vehicles, and increasing awareness while standing duty.
"Our goal was to increase security awareness and cooperation with our partner countries as it relates to drug trafficking and terrorism," said Lt.j.g. Dylan Harmon, NCIS OIC. "It was a success. In each country, we learned as much from our peers as they did us."
The Air Force and Army medical and veterinary teams worked with more than 300 medical and veterinary personal throughout HSV-SPS 12. The medical teams covered topics including basic-life-saving (BLS), advanced-life-saving, tropical disease, vaccination, and gastrointestinal disorders. The veterinary team worked with military working dogs, farmers, and veterinarians to increase the level of care provided to local animals.
"It is amazing to see the work these doctors and clinics are doing with the resources they have," said Air Force Maj. Brant Lutsi, medical team OIC aboard Swift. "Medical information and practices are always changing and evolving, so every opportunity we have to discuss our practices and procedures increases patient care."
During its deployment Swift offloaded more than $6 million of Project Handclasp materials throughout the deployment. Four million dollars of materials were delivered during Swift's visit to Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Feb. 16. Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material donated by America's private sector on a space available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.
"The coordination and cooperation with the host nation really makes Project Handclasp a success," said Wright. "Handclasp demonstrates how the private sector and government can work together to make a difference."
Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilians in the region.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports 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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