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CONCEPCION, Chile (NNS) -- Seventeen service members from High Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 Swift painted nine temporary homes in Concepcion Nov. 22 as part of a community relations project to assist those who lost their homes during a February earthquake.

The complement of Sailors, Marines and an Airman arrived at the housing site at day break in support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011, an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command's area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America.

"This is just another opportunity for us to support one of our partner nations and display some teamwork," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Robert Frost, who led the painting crew. "It feels great to be out here with our Chilean brothers and sisters working together to make the best of what was unfortunately a bad situation."

101122-N-6724S-082 CONCEPCION, Chile (Nov. 22, 2010) Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Pablo Mercado guides Chilean navy medical corps personnel on a tour of High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2). Mercado and three other U.S. Navy medical corps personnel are conducting a five-day subject matter expert exchange with 19 counterparts from Chile as part of Southern Partnership Station 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Aaron Strickland/Released)The project is just the first wave of homes to be painted during the one-week mission in Concepcion, which includes subject matter expert exchanges, information sharing ventures and joint operations exchanges with local military and government agencies.

"Evolutions like this are a testament to the progress Chile and the U.S are making in enhancing and strengthening our relationship," said SPS 2011 Mission Commander, Cmdr. Mark A. Becker, who is deputy chair for the Naval War College’s Warfare Analysis and Research Department. "We're going to continue to work together and work as partners sharing common interest and goals."

"Thank you. Thank you," said Corina Carvajal, a Concepcion native who resided in one of the painted homes. "This is wonderful, and we really appreciate it."

Carvajal has been living in the area since her home was destroyed in the tsunami that followed the earthquake.

"This proves we can rebuild and come back from this disaster," said Carvajal. "This shows people care about us, and it provides us with more hope."

The 2010 Chile earthquake off the country's coast Feb. 27 was measured at magnitude 8.8 and lasted 90 seconds. It was felt strongly in six Chilean regions that together make up 80 percent of the country's population. The earthquake triggered a tsunami which devastated several coastal towns, displacing approximately 1.5 million people.

The Swift team is also scheduled to conduct training and subject-matter-expert exchanges with partner nations in: Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.

The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region.

Commander, U.S. Navy Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility.

COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. maritime strategy, including theater security cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

For more information, contact COMUSNAVSO/C4F Public Affairs by email at comusnavso-c4f_mypt_pao@navy.mil, visit www.public.navy.mil/comusnavso-c4f, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT, and www.facebook.com/Southern Partnership Station or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.
 
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Jeffery Tilghman Williams, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs