Snapshots from Africa Partnership Station 2012: Swift showcases skills & goodwill – Part Two

The following blog post was originally published in the July 2012 edition of SEALIFT, a Military Sealift Command newspaper publication. During the month of September, we will be highlighting regular blog posts from the mission as APS 12 concludes in Africa.

Ensign Joe Keiley, the public affairs officer aboard Swift, reflects on his time aboard the ship and the value of the APS mission:

“A month into my adventure on high speed vessel Swift (HSV 2) and I’ve already visited more foreign ports (five) than my previous 18 months in the Navy.

Boatswain Ray Tinay touches up the paint while Swift is in East London, South Africa, June 2.
U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Martin Wright

We’ve seen briefly the French-speaking nations of Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Republic of the Congo, respectively. We’ve continued further south, hitting Namibia and South Africa.

The weather has been a bit more winter-like, but both have been absolutely beautiful places to see and the whole time, Swift has been connecting with local leaders, military, civilian, and the public, many who have gotten a chance to see the ship and learn about the chances to share knowledge and our interests in protecting the seas, deterring piracy and keeping trade flowing in and out of Africa.

Visiting so many different places in a short period of time, getting a chance to have a variety of service members, civilians, and diplomats all involved in the Africa Partnership mission is encouraging to see, and Swift is perhaps the most unique and capable ship that can pull these varied opportunities off.

It takes a lot of people working together, but hopefully our continued presence will give the chance to really see the growth in new friendships across the continent.”

Another U.S. Navy Sailor aboard Swift, Logistics Specialist 1st Class Shane Mitchell, reflects on the community relations aspect of the APS mission:

“I had a tremendous experience traveling to an orphanage in Pointe Noire, Congo. The children, along with their instructors, were singing to us as we arrived. Their faces were aglow, and they were singing from their hearts. Smiles often go long distances, and I can say with great certainty that they touched my heart and continue to touch it today.

The Navy musicians we have had on board have been spectacular. It was an honor to be with them as they entertained the faculty and children. An even more astounding portion was to watch as the children danced and sang along with the songs.

I had the distinct privilege of giving an APS water bottle to a young teenage boy. He received it with a heavenly smile. To bring a pleasant experience into this young man’s life was rewarding and enriching.

APS is about touching people’s lives in tangible ways. To make a child’s day is something that should be strived for daily, and I was certainly glad to have contributed to that young man’s life. Our friendship is one that I always remember.”

During the month of June, Swift continued the mission in Mozambique, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Kenya before the APS East mission concludes and heads to the west coast to begin APS West with visits in Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin.

The ship’s gold crew and blue crew¬†turnedover¬†in July, and APS 12 is scheduled to conclude in September.

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