Sailors From USS Underwood Participate in COMREL

Five Sailors from the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) participated in a community relations (COMREL) project at St. Christopher’s School For The Deaf in Brown’s Town, Jamaica, July 13.

The Sailors spent time with the children and distributed stuffed animals provided by “Project Handclasp.”

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.

“It was great to go out and see these kids today,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Christian Mailtland, who has been teaching Sailors aboard Underwood how to communicate via sign language. “As soon as we arrived at the school, the children welcomed us and seemed happy to see us.”

Maitland showed the other Sailors basic hand gestures so that everyone could communicate with the children at the school.

“I was happy to use my knowledge and skills to help out and to make the kids feel at ease with us,” said Mailtland.

The Sailors also presented a plaque to Patricia Blake, the vice principal of the school, to commemorate Underwood’s visit.

“It makes me feel good inside to know that other people from a foreign country care about the work that we do here with these children,” said Blake. “These young men from the U.S. Navy impressed me with their eagerness to interact with the children. They made an effort to communicate with them through sign language.”

Afterwards, Underwood Sailors and the children played basketball and games in the play yard.

“It felt good to see the children’s faces when we gave them the stuffed animals and played games with them,” said Boatswain’s 2nd Class Jason Funk, another Sailor assigned to Underwood. “Everything we can do, no matter how small or big, to make a child smile is a good day for all of us.”

While assigned to U.S. Fourth Fleet, Underwood is deployed to Central and South America and the Caribbean in support of Southern Seas 2012 which is an annual collaborative deployment to conduct a variety of exercises, goodwill port visits and multinational subject matter expert exchanges.

Naval Today Staff, July 16, 2012