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Africa Partnership Station Staff Helps Provide Relief in Haiti

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100121-04
Release Date: 1/21/2010 11:42:00 AM

By Lt. j.g. Rick Chernitzer, Operation Unified Response Public Affairs

KILLICK, Haiti (NNS) -- Members of the international staff of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West began working ashore Jan. 19 with Sailors from USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) to help deliver relief supplies and aid medical personnel in helping victims of the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti Jan. 12.

Gunston Hall was scheduled to deploy to Africa to support APS when the ship was redirected to join Operation Unified Response, support to Haitian earthquake victims.

APS West staff members worked to help plan the ship's response to being activated for the relief effort. The staff's efforts have been focused on the Killick Haitian Coast Guard Base in Killick, Haiti.

"When you see with your own eyes what has to be done, you know it is very important work," said Ensign Albert Assapi, an APS West staff member from the Gabon navy.

Assapi said while he did assist with moving patients and aiding doctors and corpsmen in treating patients, he found he did the most good just befriending people.

"We have much in common," said Assapi. "And we could understand one another, which made things easier for us all."

Lt. Cmdr. Marco Campasso, from the Italian navy, and Lt. Cmdr. Sam Ayelazono, from the Ghanaian navy, helped implement an identification system to better control the flow of people into the base.

"I think it was a great opportunity," said Campasso. "We were able to control the flow, yet people understood what we were doing and were cooperative."

"We immediately set out to find a way to be a part of this effort," said Capt. Cindy Thebaud, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 60 and APS West commander. "It's an operation we often train for, and having a chance to bring the African partners in on it adds some critical expertise and unique perspectives for approaching the disaster."

APS West is an international initiative developed by Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa that aims to improve maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa.

A Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship, Gunston Hall recently completed a mid-life modernization availability. The work included major upgrades to the ship's control system, local area network and machinery control system, propulsion systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as replacement of the ship's boilers and evaporators with an all-electric services system.

Find out more about Gunston Hall at www.gunston-hall.navy.mil.

To learn more about Africa Partnership Station and its mission, visit www.c6f.navy.mil/apshome.html.

For more news from Africa Partnership Station, visit www.navy.mil/local/aps/.



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