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APS, Swift Deliver Project Handclasp Supplies in Togo
Africa Partnership Station (APS) Swift delivered two pallets of medical supplies as part of Project Handclasp to the local Red Cross in Lome, Togo, August 25, 2009. <br /> <br />Ambassador to Togo Patricia McMahon Hawkins, Togolese Red Cross
Africa Partnership Station (APS) Swift delivered two pallets of medical supplies as part of Project Handclasp to the local Red Cross in Lome, Togo, August 25, 2009.

Ambassador to Togo Patricia McMahon Hawkins, Togolese Red Cross President Norbert Gagno Paniah, and Commander John D. Tolg, APS Swift mission commander, spoke to a mixed audience of reporters and military members at the Lome Naval Station on the importance of the donations as well as the ongoing American-Togolese relationship.

Paniah said it was a great honor to receive the medical supplies, adding, "It solidifies the relationship between the Red Cross here in Togo and the United States."

Relationships were a common theme among each speaker at the ceremony. Tolg discussed the positive impact of the program and how the relationships created and maintained are lasting and meaningful, while the ambassador discussed Project Handclasp as part of the APS initiative.

"The presence of Swift here in Togo is the result of many exchanges between our nations," Hawkins said. "It is a partnership exchange called Africa Partnership Station, APS. This is an initiative taken by the American Navy at the request of African nations to improve maritime safety and security. While undertaking this role, the Navy participates in humanitarian endeavors, like Project Handclasp. It serves the greater good by helping those in need and fostering the relationships our countries have with one another."

Project Handclasp, now in its 50th year, is a program where material is donated by American citizens for humanitarian, education, and goodwill purposes and distributed by sailors and marines to partners overseas.

"Our trainers, our students, our crew and our partner countries have worked together in this continuing effort to build maritime domain awareness," said Tolg. "The success of this six-week mission has helped build maritime safety and security throughout the region."

While in Togo, Swift's crew will participate in community relations projects, host a shipboard reception and conduct an APS recognition ceremony for the participating Benin and Togolese Sailors.

APS is a multinational initiative developed by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa which aims to work cooperatively with U.S. and international partners to enhance maritime safety and security on the African continent.

Swift, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.
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