Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
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June 21, 2010
HSV2 SWIFT Sailors Conduct Exchange in Nicaragua
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael Leslie, High Speed Vessel Swift Public Affairs
High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV) 2 Sailors conducted a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) subject matter expert (SME) exchange in Corinto, Nicaragua, June 7-15.
The ship is deployed in support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010, which is designed to strengthen maritime relations with partner nations in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Central and South America. This includes close interaction with the local communities, such as the one in Corinto.
"This is a great concept and we had a great experience," said Lt. Alvaro Alvarado, a member of the Nicaragua Navy who participated in the exchange. "This is a very important part of our job here, so having the opportunity to exchange ideas about counter drug operations and how to handle illegal fishing and pirate vessels was invaluable."
During the weeklong SME exchange, participants swapped stories, conducted demonstrations and critiqued one another's techniques on defense tactics during VBSS operations.
"The goal here is to build better relations between the United States and Nicaragua, and I believe it's working," said Chief Boatswain's Mate (EXW) Tim Shipke, from Pasadena, Md., a SME exchange facilitator currently deployed aboard Swift. "They're all young, and eager to show off their skills."
The participants spent the first few days exchanging ideas, then put everything they learned to good use during a series of role-playing scenarios. The group of 14 Nicaraguan sailors and five U.S. Sailors divided into two groups and carried out a mock counter-narcotics operation to include a high-speed chase, followed by boarding and seizure. They also carried out a scenario in which they boarded a mock illegal fishing vessel.
"The defense tactics we learned last week are really important and it was good to be able to put them to use during the scenarios today," said Alvarado. "The boarding methods are vital to how we face a threat and we enjoyed seeing them in action."
While deployed in support of SPS 2010, Swift will visit various countries in the Caribbean island nations, Central and South America over the upcoming months. During the ship's stay in Nicaragua, the crew will meet and exchange professional knowledge with the region's civil and maritime services.
This is the fourth SPS deployment in the USSOUTHCOM AOR and the vision is to continue this effort to maintain a persistent presence in the region as a way to further enhance strong relationships. The ship is operated and navigated by 17 civilian contract mariners working for a private company under charter to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.
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