HSV2 Swift Departs Liberia

HSV2 Swift Departs Liberia

Military Sealift Command-chartered High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) departed Monrovia, Liberia Aug. 11 after concluding a port visit in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West 2012.

Swift spent eight days engaging with the people and military of Liberia as the ship docked in Freeport.

An embarked team of medical professionals, both from the U.S. Navy and the non-governmental organization Project Hope spent three days providing medical care for more than 2,000 people, providing eyeglasses, basic medications, and referrals for continued care after building relationships with medical leaders from local agencies.

Three separate groups of subject matter experts, from Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2, Security Cooperation Team 6, as well as a Mobile Training Team from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command provided information exchanges during the week on topics ranging from port security, to non-lethal combat skills and instructor training.

“I’ve been able to get out and see every event this week, and the biggest stand-out in my mind is the ability to see the true exchange that does occur, not just through our subject matter experts conveying their message, but what comes back to us from the host nation,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brad Fillius, Swift’s military detachment officer-in-charge. “The Liberian people, their military, we leave here learning a lot about their country, and got to see them display true professionalism.”

The ship hosted a reception for more than 100 distinguished visitors who learned more about Swift and its mission. During the reception, Swift’s leadership spoke about the partnership building that is central to the APS mission.

“It’s really an important part of this ship’s mission to be able to support humanitarian missions and these partnership stops and to quickly adapt to either situation,” said Capt. Rhett Mann, Swift’s civilian master. “It’s great to have a night to show the ship off to visitors and put the civilian and military partnership on display.”

The reception wrapped up with comments from the U.S. ambassador to Liberia crediting the ship’s crew for building relationships that will last into the future.

All of this activity serves to underscore our ongoing commitment to helping the Armed Forces [of] Liberia develop as a genuine ‘force for good,’ capable of carrying out its duties in a professional manner, and rendering true service to the people of Liberia,” said Michael Arietti, U.S. ambassador to Liberia.

Swift’s crew also took time to play a soccer match with members of the Liberian Coast Guard.

During the visit the ship was able to offload more than 2,000 pounds of donated supplies to local organizations as part of Project Handclasp. The majority of the cargo was comprised of eyeglasses and water filters.

“We have a lot of people who have poor sight in Liberia, these will be given to them freely and they will be very grateful. A pair of glasses is very expensive, and we pray that this won’t be our last time working together and that we’ll always have communication,” said Victoria Tomah, director, Liberian Annual Conference/United Methodist Church.

This was also a first stop in Africa for the ship’s Gold Crew who turned over in Italy last month.

“For this being the first visit with this crew, I thought everything went really well and we have some good plans in place now and a good building block for future visits,” said Fillius.

APS is about developing solutions to global problems and building upon long-standing relationships. Through events like the ones held in Liberia and in future ports, it helps to create partnerships among a number of organizations who have not traditionally worked with each other in the past to achieve common goals through collaboration.

Naval Today Staff, August 13, 2012; Image: US Navy