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HSV 2 SWIFTly Delivers Marines to Rota

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050414-05
Release Date: 4/14/2005 1:58:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Kristine DeHoux, Naval Media Center Det. Rota, Spain

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- High Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 Swift, with a compliment of more than 240 Marines, pulled into Naval Station Rota April 11. The Marines of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, are on their way back to their reserve unit in Port Hueneme, Calif., following a training mission in Morocco.

Transporting the Marine battalion is just one of the services Swift has recently provided. The ship spent the last few months supporting tsunami relief efforts in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility as part of "Operation Unified Assistance."

"It's nice having the Marines on board," said Machinist's Mate 3rd Class (SW) Courtney Haralson, a Swift crew member. "But a lot of them aren't familiar with sea life, so we have to teach them about how we do things at sea."

Marine Cpl. Aden Rodriquez from Weapons Company said he enjoyed the opportunity to ride the ship and mingle with the few Sailors he met.

"The fact that the ship was able to hold all our equipment and still have room for us was very impressive," said Rodriguez. "It was a little rough out to sea, but it got us here fast."

Rodriguez wasn't the only one impressed with Swift. During the ship's time in port, many service members from the Rota community took the opportunity to tour this unique catamaran-like ship, including Spanish officers, Adm. Angel Tello Valero, admiral of the Spanish Fleet; Rear Adm. Gonzalo Rodriguez Gonzalez-Aller, chief of staff, Spanish Fleet; and Rear Adm. Ricardo Gomez Enriquez, admiral in chief, Naval Base Rota.

The Reservists spent their annual two-week training period participating in "Operation African Lion," an ongoing exercise in the region. During their time in Africa, the Marines conducted bilateral training exercises with the Moroccan army.

"It was actually pretty neat," said Marine Master Sgt. Anthony Cross, operations chief. "Most of our Marines don't get the chance to get outside of the U.S. for training, so this was a unique opportunity for us."

The Marines met with Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 that deployed from Rota last month to Morocco. The Marines stayed in the camp constructed by NMCB 1 when they weren't participating in training and received plenty of forklift support from the Seabees.

"They were there to help us out when we needed it," said Cross. "The Seabees weren't part of the exercise, but they sure gave us a lot of support."

Another group also played a role in the Marines' mission in Morocco. Five active-duty corpsmen from the naval hospital at Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., deployed with the battalion in order to provide the Marines with medical support.

"I enjoyed it," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SCW) Joe Adams. "It was a wonderful experience that broke up the monotony of being in a hospital and got me in the field where I could put my training to work."

Putting training to the test was the theme of the two-week exercise. One week each month, the reserve Marines get together to train, and this deployment gave them a chance to put their skills to work and also improve interoperability with the host country.

When the combined joint exercises concluded, the Marines boarded Swift for a 24-hour trip to Rota where they will stay until they fly back home to California.

Swift's ability to operate in shallow coastal waters, carry large amounts of equipment and supplies, and travel at speeds of more than 45 knots makes it versatile enough to help in a wide array of operations. The Navy is using Swift as a test platform in order to come up with plans for a new, adaptable Littoral Combat Ship for the future.

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