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U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche visits Samoa

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche visits Samoa

Crew members and students in an ultimate display of teamwork, rolling a log out of the way of the school hall.

Crew members and students in an ultimate display of teamwork, rolling a log out of the way of the school hall.

Samoa had a real treat on their hands Tuesday April 24 as USCG Cutter Waesche pulled into Apia Harbor.   The 418 foot ship is part of the new Legend-class of national security cutters designed to be the flagship of the USCG fleet.  Captain and crew were able to go onshore for a bit of much needed R&R, but were also gracious enough to open their ship and offer their time to the people of Samoa.

It started with Captain Kelly Hatfield and a dozen officers and crew members joining our Embassy to celebrate ANZAC Day in the predawn hours of April 25th.  Chargé d’ Affaires Chad Berbert laid a wreath with Captain Hatfield in front of the Apia Town Clock which is a landmark in memory of Samoan soldiers who died at war.  The other officers and crew members took part in the march as well.   The US was represented well and was positively acknowledged by the host government and others of the Diplomatic Corps.

Later that morning, the ship then hosted an open house to allow locals onboard to take an extensive tour of the vessel and meet the crew. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for  more than 50 students from the Samoa School of Maritime who were invited to take the tour and meet Commanding Officer Captain Hatfield in person. Representatives from various media organizations also got the chance to tour Cutter Waesche. Two staff members from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were also given a private tour of the vessel. The events gave Samoans the unique opportunity of viewing a US Coast Guard ship and meeting US citizens to further strengthen relations between the two nations.

While they were hosting ship tours, about 20 crew members visited Samoa Primary school to assist with tree planting, painting and concrete work.  The crew donated 20 fruit trees, 2 spades and a box of paint brushes and worked side by side with the primary school children to beautify the landscape and get the new school hall presentable for its grand opening Friday the 27th.  The crew also played a pickup game of rugby and volleyball with the students for a half hour.  Crew were then treated to a delicious lunch and song and dance provided by the Samoa Primary School students.  The students truly outdid themselves and the crew were truly touched by their kindness.

It was all too soon that Waesche had to set sail again, leaving Samoa’s shores destined for Australia.  In only two days, the crew had such a memorable experience and Samoa benefited in many different ways.  This visit solidified the image of American servicemen and the US Embassy as a dedicated development partner in Samoa.  Such activities continue to promote US engagement in Samoa on all levels.  We will surely miss USCG Waesche and look forward to the day they visit our shores again.  [view photos]