Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Southern Partnership Station Returns to Panama

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Ball

PANAMA CITY, Panama (NNS) -- High speed vessel Swift (HSV 2) returned here yesterday for the second of two instruction evolutions in Panama during Southern Partnership Station (SPS).

Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command area of focus in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission goal is primarily information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

Training teams from Navy Expeditionary Training Command, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Marine Corps Training and Advisory Group began their courses today with students from the Panamanian National Air and Maritime Service and the Panamanian National Police.

The courses provide instruction in a variety of topics such as waterborne security, small boat navigation, basic coxswain, armed sentry, pier sentry, close quarters battle techniques, junior and senior enlisted leadership principles, boarding team member, port security and small boat repair.

Training began Feb. 3 in classrooms set up on Swift and at Panamanian facilities.

"Overall we'll be teaching sixteen students waterborne security and coxswain techniques," said small boat instructor Hull Technician 1st Class Jack Yates, from Chicago. "The students are going to learn high speed maneuvers and handling of boats in high pressure situations in order to facilitate high-value asset protection such as security escorts or picket boat maneuvering."

The return to Panama came two days after the week-long SPS visit to Cartagena, Colombia. While there, instructors taught members of the Colombian National Navy, National Marines and National Police about nonlethal weapons, port security and leadership. SPS also refurbished a local primary school and dropped off Project Handclasp medical supplies to a local community center.

Project Handclasp is a Navy program that utilizes extra cargo space on Navy ships to transport privately donated humanitarian goods to foreign ports.

Panama is the sixth stop for SPS. After Panama, SPS is scheduled to visit Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Colombia and Jamaica.

The mission is coordinated through U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet (NAVSO/ 4th Fleet) with partner nations to meet their specific training requests. As the Naval Component Command of SOUTHCOM, NAVSO's mission is to direct U.S. Naval Forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Various operations include counter-illicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training.

Fourth Fleet is the numbered fleet assigned to NAVSO, exercising operational control of assigned forces in the SOUTHCOM area of focus.