Sailors and civil service mariners aboard joint, high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) delivered 46 pallets of humanitarian items donated by private companies to nongovernmental organizations as part of Project Handclasp in Lagos, Nigeria, April 15.
Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material donated by the U.S.-private sector on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships. The donations are distributed to foreign nation recipients.
“This is a great feeling,” said Jimmy Alli, a representative of one of the Nigerian recipient organizations. “I can’t actually put into words what this means to the people who are going to benefit from the aid delivered today.”
The donation, which has an estimated worth of about $2.6 million, includes more than 30,000 pounds of personal mobility handcarts, wheelchairs and medical supplies for local charities.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to deliver all of these items to Nigeria,” said Lt. Cmdr. Emma Mathis, Spearhead’s military department supply officer. “I know that what we are doing is important, and I am thrilled that we get to give a tremendous amount of help to the people in this country.”
Donations were offloaded from the ship and received by representatives from nongovernmental organizations including Personal Energy Transport (PET) International, Hope Haven International and AERObridge International at a port facility in Lagos where Spearhead was berthed for a port visit. PET International is a private charity that constructs and distributes personal mobility carts to organizations that help people with disabilities. Hope Haven will distribute a supply of wheelchairs, and AERObridge will distribute medical supplies to various relief organizations.
“We have always known that the United States has been there in one way or another, ready to give a helping hand,” said Alli. “To have this massive ship come to Nigeria to deliver these essential items really shows that America is committed to helping around the world.”
Spearhead was in Lagos prior to participating in Exercise Obangame Express, a Gulf of Guinea-based multinational maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation, interdiction expertise and information sharing among West and Central African maritime forces in order to increase maritime safety and security in the region.
Spearhead departed Norfolk, Va., in January for the ship’s maiden deployment, and is scheduled to work with and visit more than 20 partner nations and travel more than 15,000 miles.
Press Release, April 18, 2014; Image: US Navy