By Ensign Timothy Boston, USS Carr Public Affairs
Sailors from USS Carr (FFG 52) completed theater security cooperation events and training to improve interoperability with the Barbados Coast Guard during a four day visit to Barbados, May 4-7.
The Barbados Coast Guard has recently increased its forces and conducted more training in an effort to counter narcotic-drug trafficking. Part of that training involved Carr Sailors training the Barbados Coast Guard on U.S. Navy visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) tactics.
Lt. Chris Locher, Carr's combat systems officer, briefed VBSS tactics at a new Barbados Coast Guard Base. He discussed differences between his experiences in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea and talked about the Barbadian Coast Guard's experiences conducting counter-narcotic trafficking in the Caribbean.
"It is a great opportunity to share experiences with Sailors who conduct the same types of operations, but have a different perspective," said Locher.
During the visit Carr Sailors gave tours to 50 Barbados Sea Cadets and 20 Barbados Coast Guardsmen. The Sea Cadets were able to operate the ship's fire hoses off the flight deck and observe life aboard a ship. As Barbados looks to expand its Coast Guard, it relies on its Sea Cadets for the future leadership.
During their port visit to Barbados, Carr Sailors also donated toys and supplies to a local charity, the Needy Children's Fund. The Sailors brought two pallets of medical supplies, clothes, and toys for children as part of Project Handclasp, which is a collection of donated items delivered by the U.S. military to people in need around the world.
Carr Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Mark V. Metzger, U.S. Coast Guard Chief Liaison Officer of the East Caribbean, Cmdr. Kofi Aboagye, and several Carr Sailors brought the Project Handclasp toys and medical supplies to a woman named Dame Olga Lopes-Seale. Lopes-Seale, known as "Auntie Olga" on the island, runs the Needy Children's Fund, which offers shelter, toys, and care to children and needy people in Bridgetown.
"I have countless children in need of one thing or another and can see from the things that [the Sailors] are bringing in here, that [the items] are things over and above what I can afford from our financial contributions that I can give to the children," said Lopes-Seale.
One Carr Sailor enjoyed brining toys to the children and spoke highly of what Auntie Olga has done for the people there.
"It was an honor to meet someone who played a significant role in decreasing poverty in Barbados," said Cryptologic Technician Technical Seaman Ryan Blank. "She has been in Barbados for over forty years helping people get on their feet,"
The Barbados Defense Force hosted a reception on their recently upgraded Coast Guard Base for officers of the Carr and four Brazilian ships in Barbados as well.
In addition and to the training and community relations events, Sailors from Carr, Barbados Coast Guard, and the Brazilian Navy also met to play a friendly soccer match the next day.
"This port visit was a tremendous opportunity for Carr Sailors to enhance the mission of the United States and United States Southern Command in the Caribbean, while enjoying some great camaraderie with fellow Sailors," said Metzger. "They really enjoyed the Barbadian culture."