NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) joined with a joint small-boat maintenance team and embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) during its Africa Partnership Station (APS) deployment to the Gulf of Guinea in July and August 2019.
APS is U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa’s flagship maritime security cooperation program in Africa. APS focuses on maritime safety and security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities and infrastructure in the continent. It consists of the various exercises and operations conducted by U.S., European, and African partners and allies throughout the U.S. Africa Command area of operations.
The four MARMC Sailors, who volunteered for the assignment, departed Norfolk on June 26 to embark Carson City in Rota, Spain. There, they joined a cooperative team that includes the Spearhead-class USNS Trenton (T-EFP 5) small-boat team, and NATO military partners from Spain and Portugal, to participate in small-boat maintenance and repairs in an effort to strengthen maritime security throughout the region.
“The primary mission of the maintenance team is to provide small-boat maintenance - with specific emphasis on American-provided small security boats - in support of the APS Maritime Security Cooperation mission, while engaging with African partners and encouraging their security efforts in a very challenging security environment,” said Scott Buchanan, C920, I-Level Programs, commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center.
Carson City has visited Dakar, Senegal; Abidjan, Cot d’Ivoire; Sekondi, Ghana; and Lagos, Nigeria.
The team troubleshot and executed maintenance on numerous boats, returning three to full-mission capability.
“I expect we’ll assess between 10 to 15 boats over the next month and attempt to return them 100-percent operational,” said Hull Technician 1st Class Craig Baker, MARMC team lead.
Baker said the focus is also on knowledge sharing and providing host nations the training necessary to maintain the boats for future operations.
“We’re out here to fix the boats, but we’re also here to train and teach them how to do the proper maintenance with boats they are not familiar with,” said Baker. “Hopefully, we will leave them with operational boats and enough knowledge to help them maintain them, so they can shore up harbor patrol and harbor safety.”
APS has also given these Sailors the opportunity to engage, not only with military, but to have a positive impact within the community, as well through various community outreach projects.
“My experience has been great in Africa,” said Engineman 3rd Class Jacquelyn Escobar. “I volunteered to help at orphanages and organized a day for the kids to come out and play various games such as musical chairs, egg races and bean bag races. In Ivory Coast, I met this little girl whose name I never got, but she wore a pretty, green dress. She held my hand the entire time. She was so sweet and even though it was difficult communicating with her, because she spoke French, we were still able to understand each other, which made that day one of my most memorable experience yet.
They are scheduled to return home to Norfolk at the end of the APS deployment.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
For more news from Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nssa/.