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Mar 4, 2011

U.S. Navy Ship, Gunston Hall, docks in Belize

Earlier we told you that Philip Tysinger a Marine on the U.S. Navy ship, Gunston Hall, is looking for his family in the Toledo District. We met him onboard the Gunston Hall, which is wrapping up its visit this weekend. The Whidbey Island Class vessel was commissioned in 1989 and is the second ship named for Gunston Hall, which is George Mason’s plantation in Virginia. Mason was the author of the Virginia Constitution which is the basis for the U.S. bill of rights. The visit has been two-fold and officers have been working with the B.D.F. and Coastguard as well as undertaking community work. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain

“The U.S.S. Gunston Hall is a Navy warship that is deployed for months at a time into international waters on missions that range from amphibious assaults to humanitarian work. They’ve been in Belize since February twenty-fourth working along with the B.D.F. and today, the media was invited onboard for a tour.”

1st Class Petty Officer Jeffrey Feld, Radio Department, U.S.S. Gunston Hall

Jeffrey Feld

“Normally we deploy with an Amphibious Ready Group, an ARG. We’d go out with two or three other amphibious ships and transfer our Marin division to a hostile shore. Our primary mission is amphibious assault; take over opposed beaches. Our secondary missions; things that we’ve done more recently like our last deployment and this deployment, we’ve done a lot of humanitarian assistance missions.”

Lt. Col. David Jones, Chief of Staff, BDF

“We don’t get this opportunity often so whenever it does arrive, we really welcome it because it’s very beneficial to what we’re getting and it enhances our operational capability throughout the country as well.”

John Meier

Capt. John Meier, Commanding Officer, USS Gunston Hall

“Just a little over a year ago, Gunston Hall was the first ship that responded to the Haitian crisis and although we’re on a training mission and a partnership mission to Belize, we also bring that first response capability from humanitarian assistance and that’s our secondary mission on this deployment.”

First Class Petty Officer, Jeffrey Feld, was our tour guide for the day and he discussed impressive features of the ship, which spans six hundred and nine by eighty-four feet.

1st Class Petty Officer Jeffrey Feld

“Our well deck, which the primary reason for the ship—the ability to put our boats ashore and move the cargo back and forth. We have cranes to move the vehicles around, we have a flight deck to assist us in moving cargo whether from ship to ship or ship to shore personnel and then we have some defensive systems and we’ll end our tour in the pilot house where you can see where they drive the ship and we’ll talk about some of the engineering systems.  We have two ships that we can—right now you’ll see ‘em alongside—they can actually go inside the well deck. They’re Landing Craft Utilities or what we call LCU’s. They have a much shallower draft; they’re still independent ships. They can go like ten days on their own but we put those inside load them up with cargo and they can take them directly to the beach.”

And like every warship, the Gunston Hall, is fully equipped to defend itself should the need arise.

1st Class Petty Officer Jeffrey Feld

“Most of our weapon systems are defensive in nature. We have anti-missile systems and then we have some small arms onboard. We have some decoy systems, try and fool missiles into not hitting us kind of stuff.  We have the ability to land helicopters, refuel them. We’ll get helicopters from a larger amphibious ship and move our personnel ashore. We can also host amphibious assault vehicles, AAVs, which are fully amphibious armored personnel carriers. It can hold twenty-five marines in there; drive them off the back of the ship directly into the water. It’ll go right up to the beach, right up the sand.”

The media tour was facilitated by B.D.F. Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel, David Jones, who spoke about the exchange of skills that has been taking place between the two forces.

Lt. Col. David Jones

David Jones

“The marines go to price Barracks and they do training with our troops. They get involved in Martial Arts training, they do combat ready training, they do jungle warfare training, they get water survival training and our combat medics also get training. Also there explosive ordinance disposal training so some of our guys are learning how to deal with I.E.D. incidents including grenades or bombs being placed in different buildings.   Out here we’re doing water borne training with them. They’re learning how to board vessels and how to get off from the vessel on to land. Our guys are also providing security for this ship out here, while they’re here for the entire day.”

And according to Jones, the training has been intense, but both militaries have held strong throughout.

Lt. Col. David Jones

“The B.D.F. working alongside with them, it’s the same level of motivation, same level of effectiveness but we’re getting new techniques to achieve the same aim and it’s a pleasure for them to be here with us.”

Delahnie Bain

“Reporting for News Five from the U.S.S. Gunston Hall, I am Delahnie Bain.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “U.S. Navy Ship, Gunston Hall, docks in Belize”

  1. Disgusted! says:

    At least this guy is proud of his heritage and understands that his family means more to him than the life he has in America. I wish him luck and hope he is reunited with them. His adoptive parents should be commended for at least telling him where was born. Again, parents, your children are not bartering goods. Think long and hard before making life changing decisions like this.

  2. Earl Grey says:

    BELIZE………The 59th State of the United States of America.

  3. Rizzo says:

    If that was the case Belize would have been in better shape.

  4. joegrind says:

    well said rizzo

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