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Aug 30, 2007

U.S. Navy ship back in Belize for training

Story PictureWith all the water on land this week, you might not have noticed the strange vessel that’s been moored in the Belize City harbour since Monday. But as News Five’s Marion Ali reports, the work being done on board the ship will prove crucial during emergency situations.

Marion Ali, Reporting
Commissioned in 2003, the H.S.V. Swift Navy Ship is three hundred and eighteen feet long and eighty-five feet wide, and can travel more than fifty miles an hour. The Swift’s mission is to spend six months every year touring the Caribbean to conduct training sessions. On the ship’s second trip to Belize instructors focused on outboard motor maintenance, patrol craft operation, and life saving medical skills. Captain Douglas Wied is Commander of the H.S.V Swift Mission.

Captain Douglas Wied, Commander in charge of H.S.V. Swift Mission
“We’ve got the U.S. Marine Corps here and they’re ashore working with the Belize Defence Force and a whole bunch of their new recruits conducting a lot of small unit training tactics. Additionally we’re conducting training in field medical readiness. And we’ve got the Coastguard out working with our troops learning how to operate the small boats doing underway port security.”

Petty Officer, Charles Givens is one of doctors facilitating the basic life-saving courses.

Charles Givens, Petty Officer
“All the time they’re actively engaged. It is designed to take someone with no experience and bring them to an advanced level to be able to sustain life. They’re not actually out there to be medics but they’re out there to be able to sustain life long enough to get them to the next level of care.”

For Seaman Mark Chiac the training will improve his performance as a member of the Belize National Coastguard.

Mark Chiac, Seaman, Belize National Coastguard
“It’s what we call the I.V procedure whereby if someone needs fluid in their body after an accident or some sort of survival—what you’d call—survival tactics out at sea where we are, that’s the procedure that we do in order for them to get liquid for us to take them to the hospital and not to lose them.”

Marion Ali
“Would you normally have I.V. on a coastguard boat?”

Mark Chiac
“Well right now no but in the future we will.”

Marion Ali
“Ok, you’ve been here for what, a week almost. What have you picked up aside from learning how to administer I.V.?”

Mark Chiac
“Basic C.P.R., as well as you know, the I.V. part, but it’s just to highlight us on the medical part of what we should know out at sea whenever an accident happens.”

But aside from the training exercises, the H.S.V. Swift, has the capacity to store up to six hundred tonnes of cargo and two helicopters on board to provide free transportation during emergency situations.

Mark Chiac
“You have different organizations and people in the United States that donate various items, in our case, a lot of medical supplies and long-term storage food. The navy then, because we’re going to a number of countries, we provide the transportation and we bring it. As we’ve gone to each one of the various countries, we then have brought that ashore and turned it over to various local organisations that have gone to clinics and orphanages that need it the most. Here we’ve been working with local non-governmental agencies to ensure that the donations are placed where they’re most needed.”

The U.S. Navy vessel will leave Belizean waters on Saturday en route to the Dominican Republic. Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

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