More than 100 U.S. Navy Sailors aboard the USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the USS Chafee (DDG 90) teamed with the Peruvian Navy to restore playground equipment, window frames, chairs, and desks at a school in the Peruvian capital of Lima as part of a community relations (COMREL) project.
The initiative, which was spearheaded by the U.S. Navy’s Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD), took place at the Almirante Miguel Grau Seminario from October 4-5.
“Community relations events such as the project to help restore a school in Lima, where U.S. Military members partner with a partner nation’s military to complete a project that aids a local community, are just a small part of a much larger exercise which contributes to the goal of security cooperation,” said Captain Wallace G. Lovely of the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)/U.S. Fourth Fleet Director, Southern Seas 2015.
Giving back to communities
“While the key mission of Southern Seas 2015 is Military-to-Military engagements, we do make an effort wherever possible to conduct Community Relations events in conjunction with port visits, which are planned with the country team and the local government,” Capt. Lovely said. “Southern Seas 15 is only a piece of the U.S.’s commitment to the region.”
“These actions achieve a direct impact on the civilian population, contributing to bringing the Armed Forces together with citizens in a successful way since the beneficiaries are school age children,” said Captain César Chávez Parodi, International Affairs Division, Office of the Peruvian Chief of Naval Operations. “The co-involvement with the United States Navy was a much appreciated gesture that no doubt will be remembered by the direct beneficiaries and those who learned about this action through media and social networking.”
The U.S. launched Southern Seas 2015 with training exercises in Peru from September 30 - October 7. By the end of the mission, U.S. Sailors will have conducted exercises with their Navy counterparts from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, and New Zealand. During their visits, the U.S. uses COMRELs to demonstrate its commitment to help residents in the Caribbean and in Central and South America.
“We're showing our support to the world,” said U.S. Navy Aviation Electronics Technician Airman David Martinez. "We're showing that we care. We're reaching out to communities that don't have the resources or the manpower that we have.”
“We're giving back to the communities at the ports we pull into," added U.S. Navy Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Manuel Perez. “I've done this in many countries because I love to give back. The other Navies and countries see that we're supporting the children of Peru. I think it's very important that we participate in these COMRELs.”
Restoring the school in Lima was just one of several of the Peruvian Navy’s humanitarian projects to aid civilians. Currently it’s providing logistical support to vessels called Traveling Social Action Platforms, which Peruvian authorities use to administer comprehensive health, dental, and social services to residents of all ages in the remote region of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley, where the remnants of the Shining Path reside and the majority of the country's coca leaf crops are cultivated.
A high level of preparation
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington and the guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee comprise the Navy's Carrier Strike Group NINE (CSG 9) deployment for the Southern Seas 2015 exercise, which strives to increase regional stability and build and maintain relationships with countries across the region through joint, multinational, and interagency exchanges and cooperation.
The USS George Washington's visit to Peru also “provided the opportunity for U.S and Peruvian forces to refine coordination, improve interoperability and demonstrate flexibility,” Capt. Lovely said. “In 2015, the United States Navy participated alongside units of the Peruvian Navy with supersonic jets MIG-29 and Mirage-2000, expanding the operational exchange and training between the two countries.”
“The presence of the embarked Carrier Air Wing aircraft is an excellent opportunity for Peru to train with high-tech aircraft, and also a way to confirm the high level of preparation of Peruvian pilots, which has enabled complex exercises without any inconvenience,” said Captain Chávez Parodi.