The US Navy’s High-Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) yesterday departed from Durban, after concluding a two-week theatre security cooperation visit to the area.
Durban was the third and final stop Swift made to South Africa in support of its mission, which began in Simon’s Town and continued to East London.
“This marks the last of Swift’s planned visits to South Africa this year,” said Lieutenant Commander Charles Eaton, officer in charge of Swift. “I’m happy to say we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our time here, and we feel lucky to have the opportunity to see so much of the country and to meet and work so closely with the people here.”
Over the course of three port visits several hundred people visited Swift for tours, giving the crew a chance to highlight the unique capabilities of the ship and civilian-military partnership. Sailors met with their counterparts in the South African Navy, conducted office calls and toured South African vessels, events that all built bonds that look to strengthen future visits, Swift Public Affairs said.
“This crew of civilians, sailors and Marines on board are ambassadors for the United States during their visit,” said Virginia Palmer, charge d’affaires, U.S. Consulate South Africa. “Now they will be ambassadors for South Africa, to talk about the hospitality they enjoyed here and the warmth of Port Durban.”
Swift will continue to visit ports in Africa as it begins support of Africa Partnership Station in Mozambique. Africa Partnership Station (APS) is the US Naval Forces Africa’s (NAVAF) flagship maritime security cooperation programme. The focus of APS is to build maritime safety and security by increasing maritime awareness, response capabilities and infrastructure.
Through APS, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and NAVAF conduct engagement activities with international partners and governmental/non-governmental organisations. “2012 marks the fifth year that Africa Partnership Station has been working to improve maritime safety and security in Africa,” explained Lieutenant Nathan Potter of the US Naval Forces Africa Public Affairs Office.
“The first official APS deployment took place during 2007-2008 in West and Central Africa. US Navy vessels participating in APS 2012 so far includes the guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) and the high-speed vessel Swift (HSV 2),” Potter added.
To illustrate the increased importance of Africa to the US, the Swift between May 22 and 23 made a port visit to Walvis Bay in Namibia, the first US Navy vessel port-of-call to Namibia in over a decade. The last time a US Navy vessel visited Namibia was in 1999.
“There were plenty of once in a lifetime things to do here, we got to go on a shark dive, saw penguins and went on a safari,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Danielle Leal. “The people were really nice, I almost don’t want to leave.”
Swift, a U.S. Military Sealift Command-chartered high-speed vessel, is currently deployed off the coast of Africa in support of theatre security cooperation efforts.
Prior to visiting southern Africa, Swift visited Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, Lome, Togo and Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.