Vietnamese volunteers, U.S. Navy Seabees begin construction for Pacific Partnership 2010
QUY NHON, Vietnam - Under the Vietnamese heat, members from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, out of Gulfport, Miss., began three construction projects here May 13 as part of Pacific Partnership 2010.
At the invitation of the Vietnamese government, the U.S. Navy will be conducting renovation projects at the Hope Center, Phuoc Thuan Clinic and Tuy Phuoc District Health Center as part of Pacific Partnership 2010. Pacific Partnership is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships and increasing interoperability with the U.S. interagency, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.
“We are really excited to be here,” said Builder 2nd Class Jason McWaters, the supervisor on site at the Hope Center. “We will be renovating the building with the help of the Vietnamese.”
The Hope Center, a Vietnamese school for the handicapped, will receive a new roof, a working kitchen, electrical upgrade, and remodeling through the hard work of seven Navy engineers and 15 Vietnamese volunteers.
“The Vietnamese are hard workers and great to work with,” said McWaters. “They are going to replace the roof while we repair the kitchen and fix the electrical.”
Meanwhile, across the town, in the Phuoc Thuan district, the Navy engineers, or Seabees as they are called, are working side by side with Vietnamese to repair two clinics.
“It is nice to work with someone of a different culture,” said Builder 3rd Class Johnathon Johnston, the supervisor for the Phuoc Thuan clinic. “When we work with them, they teach us how they do construction, and we also learn a little Vietnamese.”
The Vietnamese supervisor on the same project agreed.
“The Seabees are very friendly and great to work with,” said Man Nhat Phan, the Vietnamese supervisor in charge of Phuoc Thuan clinic. “They are enthusiastic to be here and so are we. We are happy to work with them.”
The renovating of these clinics in turn builds and strengthens the relationships between the U.S. and Vietnam. Through Pacific Partnership, the U.S. Navy hopes to support Vietnamese programs that serve their citizens while strengthening the friendships and ability to work together.
“These engineering projects are important because they give us the capability to do something with another country all while building friendships,” said Johnston.
Helping ensure the materials were on site for the Seabees was the work of Defense Logistics Supply Center Philadelphia Pacific Region. This year, the majority of the materials were purchased from the local Vietnamese economy.
“By having the building materials already in place when my engineers arrived, we’re able to press forward with the mission without any distractions,” said Lt. j.g. Gabriel Gomez, engineering contingent commander for Pacific Partnership 2010. “Since we now don’t have to wait around for supplies, I feel confident my engineers will be able to complete all projects assigned to us.”
Vietnamese workers are also enjoying their time with the Seabees and working on these renovations.
“We are very happy to work on this construction project with the Seabees,” said Dung Tien Phan, a Vietnamese construction worker at the Hope Center. “They are doing a noble job here and we deeply appreciate all that they are doing.”