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Halyburton Visits Panama, Supports Theater Security Cooperation

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071114-12
Release Date: 11/14/2007 3:23:00 PM

By Ensign Jeramy Brux, USS Halyburton Public Affairs

VASCO NUNEZ DE BALBOA, Panama (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Halyburton (FFG 40) volunteered for a community relations project and participated in an exchange with the Panamanian Servicio Maritimo Nacional (Panamanian Navy) while in port the end of October.

During the community relations project, Sailors visited the Provida Foundation in Vasco Nunez De Balboa, a home for abused and neglected children. Sailors did minor repairs and painting at the Provida Foundation. The highlight of the day was a Halloween party and cookout for the children. According to missionaries there, the children had been talking about the return of the American Sailors for days.

Halyburton Sailors have volunteered several times at the Provida Home during their Counter Narcoterrorism deployment this year. Some Sailors on board have grown quite attached to the children at the Provida Home and have really enjoyed the time they spent volunteering.

Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Derek Duke said, "I enjoyed spending time with the children and learning from them. It felt really good knowing how much our visits meant to the children."

The director of the Provida Foundation Flor Estrella Galina de Pérez was happy to see Halyburton Sailors again because they and the children at the home have developed a meaningful relationship over the last few months.

He stated, "This may be small for you Sailors, but for the children and those that provide for them everyday it tells us that people do care for other people. It creates unity and it bonds the United States and Panama together as partners. I thank you for this."

Some Halyburton Sailors were also able to conduct a military–to-military exchange with the Panamanian Navy. The exchange was designed so that U.S. and Panamanian Sailors could learn from each other. The exchange included a range of topics from shipboard maintenance and safety, to small arms maintenance.

During the small arms exchange, Panamanian Sailors displayed a variety of Panamanian weapons. Halyburton Sailor Chief Gunner's Mate (Surface Warfare) Craig Bean demonstrated proper weapon disassembly and cleaning procedures.

"It was an excellent opportunity to cross-train and gain knowledge and experience with each other's small arms," said Bean. "We both learned a lot from this exchange."

Maintenance and administration programs were also discussion topics. Panamanian and U.S. Sailors had the opportunity to show each other "how work gets done" in their respective services.

Senior Chief Engineman (Surface Warfare) Ivan Wallace conducted small boat inboard and outboard engine maintenance training. The Panamanian Sailors were especially interested in Wallace's suggestions on how they could better integrate their operations and maintenance.

"It was a unique experience, the professionalism and eagerness to improve their maintenance practices made the experience very rewarding," stated Wallace.

During the exchange, Ensign Carmen Myers conducted a tour of Halyburton for Panamanian officers and petty officers.

"It was a great experience that helped build relations with our Panamanian counterparts," stated Myers.

The Panamanians were very interested and engaged during their tour of Halyburton. They returned the favor by extending an invitation to tour the Panamanian Naval Headquarters.

Halyburton, homeported in Mayport, Fla., is currently conducting Counter Narcoterrorism operations under the operational control of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and tactical control of Joint Interagency Task Force-South, in the U.S. Southern Command area of focus.

For more information on Halyburton, go to http://www.halyburton.navy.mil .

For more information on NAVSO, go to http://www.cusns.navy.mil .

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