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Homeland Security

Swift Shows its Stuff During Resupply Missions to Iwo Jima

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050916-04
Release Date: 9/16/2005 8:41:00 AM

By Journalist Seaman Christopher Okula, Fleet Public Affairs Center Norfolk

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- High-Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 Swift, homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., docked here Sept. 14 to resupply USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) with goods needed to sustain the thousands of men and women involved in nearby hurricane recovery efforts.

Ships without Swift's shallow draft and satellite-linked guidance system have cautiously kept their distance following Hurricane Katrina's impact on navigational aids throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

Swift's unique design makes the high-speed vessel an integral part of the mission by granting the ship access to depths of less than 12 feet.

The 98-meter catamaran has been ferrying cargo between Naval Air Station Pensacola and ships deployed throughout the Gulf Coast region stabilizing areas affected by the hurricane.

Another unique aspect of Swift is its relatively small crew size of 44 Sailors.

With such a small crew, Swift's Sailors bear many responsibilities together. Mineman 2nd Class (SW) Courtney Haralson of Quitman, Miss., says the power of teamwork is what makes the seemingly impossible a simple task for him and his shipmates.

"Sometimes it gets kind of crazy," Haralson said. "But you have to bond together. We've got to get things done and get back underway."

Haralson, whose family was affected by the disaster, is upbeat about the work he's doing.

"Everybody's pretty glad to be part of real-world operations," he said. "Most deployments are just planned exercises. This isn't practice - it's real."

Haralson and Fuentes were also a part of humanitarian operations in Indonesia during Operation Unified Assistance in the months following the devastating December 2004 tsunami.

Cmdr. Mark Sakaguchi, Swift's commanding officer, said his Sailors have shown the same degree of dedication to each cause.

"I can't say enough about my crew," Sakaguchi said. "They're absolutely phenomenal. They're just glad to be able to support this operation. We did it after the tsunami; now we're able to help our own."

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