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Navy Supply Ship Aids Community in Panama

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071003-12
Release Date: 10/3/2007 4:54:00 PM

By Lt.j.g. Brent R. Sproc, USNS Saturn Public Affairs Officer

VASCO NUNEZ DE BALBOA, Panama (NNS) -- Crew members of USNS Saturn (T-AFS 10) participated in a community relations project in Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Sept. 27.

Twenty-nine Sailors and Merchant Mariners took a day during the ship’s in-port maintenance period to conduct upkeep on a house for underprivileged children. The house was previously part of base housing and is now rented from the Panamanian government by The Provida Foundation.

Approximately 12 children live in the house at any given time. Currently the youngest resident is a one-year-old baby waiting for open-heart surgery.

“It’s a great feeling to know we’ve helped change the lives of these children,” said Storekeeper 1st Class Syreatha Hubbard, one of the project volunteers.

The house was started in 1998 and receives no state funding. Other houses in the area include homes for orphans and malnourished babies. The majority of the maintenance on these houses is provided by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command through community relations projects.

Saturn’s project focused on painting and prep-work for future projects and was the fifteenth project conducted on this house. Previous projects included the installation of plumbing and electrical equipment, renovation of flooring, and painting.

“What we did will make a difference in the children’s lives and it will make relations between the U.S. and Panama stronger,” said Information Systems Technician Seaman Alfredo Felizola.

“I was truly honored to work with people who enjoyed helping people for the right reasons and helping people who appreciated what help we could provide toward their bigger aspirations,” said Sgt. Brian Hendrickson of the Mid-Atlantic District Veterinary Command.

Saturn is currently deployed to the Eastern Pacific to provide logistical support to Counter Narco-Terrorism missions. She will be the last Sirius Class T-AFS to decommission, after the already decommissioned USNS Sirius (T-AFS 8), and USNS Spica (T-AFS 9), which is scheduled for the next fiscal year.

These ships were built in the United Kingdom and commissioned into the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary in the 1960s. They were then purchased by the U.S. Navy and entered service with Military Sealift Command during the early 1980s. Saturn is scheduled to decommission during fiscal year 2009.

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