By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams
The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) departed Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, July 19, 2019, after completing a scheduled port visit in support of its 2019 Africa Partnership Station (APS) deployment.
The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band's New Orleans brass band, Topside, accompanied the ship’s arrival with a performance on the flight deck as Carson City arrived in Abidjan.
Throughout the visit, Topside had several engagements ranging from a live radio interview and performances on three Ivorian radio channels to a performance at Felix Houphouet Boigny University. Engagements also included partnership with Ivorian musicians.
“We feel very fortunate to be representing the U.S. working with our Ivorian partners,” said Chief Musician Justin Belka. “We enjoyed our time alongside their musicians, creating memorable experiences for both us and the audiences at each performance. We hope our small part of the mission has a positive impact on the community here in Cote d’Ivoire.”
Topside also performed during a reception held aboard the ship, July 17. The reception was attended by embarked military personnel, international guests, and official members from the U.S. embassy. Katherine Brucker, U.S. Charge d'Affaires to Cote D'Ivoire, and Capt. Frank Okata, commander of Task Force 63, were the guest speakers.
“The U.S. Navy is extremely appreciative of the very warm welcome that the citizens of Abidjan and Cote d’Ivoire gave the crew of Carson City,” said Okata. “We were met with great energy.”
Embarked medical personnel divided into three teams during the port visit. The teams conducted first aid drills aboard Carson City with Ivorian Sailors, assisted the Ivorian naval doctors at the naval base clinic in Abidjan, and sent a team of doctors to the Abidjan military hospital, where they performed operations.
Also during the port visit, a small boat maintenance team consisting of U.S. and Spanish Sailors worked alongside engineers from the Ivorian navy, providing shipboard maintenance on various Ivorian patrol crafts.
Coast guardsmen assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Detachment Pacific, as well as Spanish and Portuguese marines, conducted various visit, board, search and seizure exercises with the Ivorian navy.
“Our small boat mechanics, medical engagement teams, and Coast Guard law enforcement detachment met highly dedicated Ivorian professionals,” said Okata. “We have all learned something from each other. The Ivorian dedication to maritime excellence will play a critical role in the building of partnership capacity in the Gulf of Guinea for the foreseeable future.”
Additionally, nearly 30 Sailors conducted a community relations event at the SOS Children’s Village Abobo Gare. After interacting with the children, Capt. Herbert Griffin, force chaplain of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, presented various supplies, toys and sporting equipment to the children and delivered remarks. The band also held a performance, where they were joined by Ivoirian children.
Carson City is currently deployed to the Gulf of Guinea to demonstrate progress through partnerships and U.S. commitment to West African countries through small boat maintenance assistance, maritime law enforcement engagement, and medical and community relations outreach.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.