QUY NHON, VIETNAM (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 and Vietnamese volunteers engaged in subject matter expert exchanges are ensuring the Pacific Partnership renovation of the Tuy Phuoc District Health Center is a mutually advantageous engagement for both.
"Seabees are used to doing construction from the ground up," said Construction Engineer 2nd Class Jacob Simino, the crew leader for the Tuy Phuoc District Health Center. "We are a green crew when it comes to renovations and the Vietnamese volunteers are teaching us a lot."
At the invitation of the Vietnamese government, the U.S. Navy has been working with Vietnamese volunteers to renovate the Tuy Phuoc District Health Center since May 13, as part of Pacific Partnership 2010. Pacific Partnership is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships and increasing interoperability with the U.S. interagency, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.
According to Simino, the Seabees don't normally work on buildings made entirely of concrete.
"Americans like to build with lumber," said Simino. "This clinic is built entirely of concrete, and it is a different type of work for us; there is a lot of masonry. On top of that, the Vietnamese do construction and masonry differently than us."
Since the construction of buildings is different in Vietnam, the Vietnamese volunteers are taking the time to work with the Seabees and teach them a few tricks of the trade.
"We are teaching them about how we do masonry," said Hai Minh Do, the Vietnamese crew leader at the Tuy Phuoc District Health Center. "They are hard workers and enthusiastic to learn."
"Hai has taught me techniques about masonry that I didn't think you could do," said Builder 3rd Class John Richard Gernhard. "I will definitely take this knowledge and use it in the future."
But the learning at the Tuy Phuoc District Health Center hasn't been one-sided. The Vietnamese are learning about Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety standards when it comes to working on job sites. .
"The Seabees have taught me about hardhats, goggles and other safety equipment," said Minh Do. "We do not wear it, but some of my workers have started."
Both countries have enjoyed working and learning from each other and have built friendships and shared laughs despite the language barrier.
"We use hand signals and motions to communicate and it works really well," said Gernhard. "I guess you could say there is a secret language amongst engineers."
For more news from Pacific Partnership visit www.navy.mil/local/pacificpartnership.