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Swift Crew Continues APS Mission, Reflects on SECNAV Visit
Sailors and embarked crew aboard Military Sealift Command-chartered High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) donated their time and effort to help paint an orphanage Sept. 4, 2012, as the ship continues its Africa Partnership Station (APS) West 2012 mission
Sailors and embarked crew aboard Military Sealift Command-chartered High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) donated their time and effort to help paint an orphanage Sept. 4, 2012, as the ship continues its Africa Partnership Station (APS) West 2012 mission in Republic of Congo.



The crew began three days of painting rooms and helping to prepare the Fondation Celestine Bagniakina Orhelinat Coeur Celeste, an orphanage outside the port of Pointe Noire that will open within the year for children in the area.



"That was one of the reasons I took these orders to Swift, to do something completely different from what I've done in my past Navy career, and this is great because it's for the kids. We do a lot of things for the adults and the local militaries, but it's really special when we can make a difference like this," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Jorge Pousa, Swift's Gold Crew supply department leading petty officer.



The orphanage will bring the children together in a structured setting and support their positive development. The community outreach event in Pointe Noire comes after the crew received recognition for their APS efforts from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who visited the vessel Aug. 29, 2012, during a distinguished visitor's reception in Douala, Cameroon.



Mabus addressed the crew from the ship's flight deck during the reception, stressing the importance of continued partnership in building regional relationships that help to deter those who seek to disrupt the free movement of vessels at sea.



"The work you are all doing here with our partners in the region can not be overstated," said Mabus. "We face common concerns and common enemies, pirates, terrorists, and traffickers. If we stand together and if we continue to operate together as partners, we will prevail against these enemies."



The SECNAV's visit was part of a trip across Africa that allowed him to thank sailors and Marines for their service and to stress the efforts in sustaining security in the region.



"The Gulf of Guinea is a crucial waterway for not just the countries that border it, but the inland countries that are served by it and for the entire world," said Mabus.



For many personnel on board Swift, the opportunity to meet Mabus was a unique opportunity that served to remind them of the importance of the work they're doing as part of APS.



"He was really down-to-earth," said Lieutenant junior grade David Zicarelli, Swift's military detachment administrative officer. "It was good that he was able to talk to pretty much everyone, even to the junior guys. It does a lot for morale to have them be appreciated for the work they put into the event, and they know that they all helped out to make it a successful visit."



The secretary's visit also resonates with the crew as they continue their work in Congo.



"I don't do it for the recognition, but it was nice to see the secretary come out last week and see us do this, and thank us for it. But it's really about showing that we're not just the military out here, but people helping to build something," said Pousa.



Swift has made port calls throughout Africa in support of APS, circumnavigating the continent since May, and has several future stops planned as part of APS West.



APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.
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