Cmdr. Garry WrightHSV 2 SWIFT, At Sea -- High Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 Swift departed La Union, El Salvador, completing the second stop of HSV-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (HSV-SPS 12), Dec. 22. 

Cmdr. Garry Wright, HVS-SPS 12 mission commander, is temporarily away from the U.S. Naval War College’s Assist and Assess Team (AAT) where he is a Fleet observer/trainer and the AAT's lead action officer for Fourth Fleet. He will return to that job in the College of Operational and Strategic Leadership when he comes back to Newport in March.

Swift visited El Salvador for three weeks to participate in a series of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) with partner nation peers. A U.S. Navy Seabee and U.S. Marine detachment from Swift completed improvements to three Salvadoran schools: Centro Escolar Gregorio Alvarez Nunez, Escuela de Educacion "Maria Luisa Marcia," and Centro Escolar Icacal.

Seabees worked with five Salvadoran military construction specialists to complete the project. The construction projects included fencing, minor plumbing, electrical maintenance, and other small repairs.

U.S. Marines assigned to the HSV-SPS 12 Marine Detachment worked with more than 25 Salvadoran marines at DM3 military base in La Union. The groups worked together to develop land navigation, small-unit leadership, and marksmanship techniques. Salvadoran marines hosted U.S. Marines at a reception Dec. 20 to celebrate the partnership the two groups had built.

"When I see our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen meet with their partner-nation peers, there is always an eagerness to learn and a curiosity about practices and procedures," said Wright. "But at the end of the time together I see friendships you would have thought took years to build."

The SPS Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) team hosted three one-week SMEEs in classrooms aboard Swift with military and civilian Salvadoran security personnel. The weeklong exchanges culminated in a practical exercise designed to develop observation techniques and identify possible risky behaviors. More than 75 Salvadorans participated in the NCIS SMEE over the three-week port visit.

The veterinary attachment aboard visited several animal care facilities in El Salvador. The trip was highlighted by the SMEE with the trainers of military working dogs in San Salvador and their visit to a Salvadoran sea turtle sanctuary.

The medical detachment also hosted SMEEs in the classrooms aboard the ship. Together with local medical professionals, the group practiced basic lifesaving techniques, suturing, and experts discussed diagnoses and prognoses of common local diseases. The medical teams also visited local hospitals and clinics in the area to meet with local healthcare professionals.

Twenty-nine pallets of Project Handclasp materials consisting of 85,000 high-calorie meals and medical equipment were off-loaded from Swift to be delivered to local families and clinics in El Salvador. "Loving Hugs" stuffed animals were also handed out to special needs children by the Military Civil Affairs Team aboard Swift to children at Escuela Educacion de Especial "La Union."

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.

All branches of U.S. military service are represented on Swift. Specialists from the Seabees, Marines, medical and veterinary fields, NCIS, Expeditionary Security Team, and Maritime Civil Affairs Team are aboard Swift for this mission.

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 navy's 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.

By Lt. Matthew Comer, High Speed Vessel-Southern Partnership Station 2012 Public Affairs
Posted by Cmdr. Carla McCarthy

Related article: HSV-Southern Partnership Station Departs El Salvador
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