Guam – Sailors assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) gathered to celebrate a trail dedication ceremony at the Guam National Wildlife Refuge (GNWR) today [Friday.
It took 148 Sailors and their spouses several months and seven visits to cut a nature trail through the refuge. The nature trail provides the people of Guam and tourists with access to one of the last remaining pieces of native jungle left on the island.
Frank Cable Chaplain, Lt. Allen Fleming, has been the driving force behind the project. He motivated the Sailors into volunteering on the mission of working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the trail.
[DEDEDO, Guam (April 8, 2011) USS Frank Cable (AS 40) Staff Chaplain, Lt. Allen Fleming, discusses the significance of the USS Frank Cable Trail with Guam National Wildlife Refuge biologist Christian Eggleston. Frank Cable conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Corey Hensley)]
“I was looking for something meaningful for us to do,” said Fleming. “I thought this is something our Sailors would benefit from. I wanted them to be able to see and experience a part of the island, its culture and ecology, that being down on this end [Santa Rita] you don’t get to see.”
Fleming said that another objective he had in mind when putting this project together was to get Sailors off the ship and into the wild to do some old fashion physical labor. Helping the GNWR shave 14 years off what would have been a 15 year project, Fleming said Frank Cable Sailors have risen to the challenge.
During the ceremony, Frank Cable’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Thomas Stanley, dedicated the USS Frank Cable Trail, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the efforts of the 148 volunteers and their families.
“The amount of work that we accomplished in a fairly short period of time was really amazing,” said Christian Eggleston, a biologist at GNWR. “It was going to be a really daunting task for us to do without some help. So when Chaplin Fleming came up and offered to give us a hand on some projects, it really worked out perfectly.”
After the ceremony, the trail was opened to all visitors to explore the 4,000 year old latte site, and the caves where ancient Chamorro people once dwelled.
“We also have a kiosk that [Frank Cable] provided for us, and that’s one of the stopping points on the trail for people to look and get to see a true latte site,” said Eggleston. “We’re going to have a nice map or drawing of what the latte site used to look like when it was being used by ancient Chamorros.”
The trail’s completion has also made it possible to reach a 500 year old coconut grove. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to properly manage the grove’s native plant species, in addition to managing the population of brown tree snakes and wild boars that have invaded the area. With controlling the brown tree snake, they should be able to reestablish the population of the local bird species.
“That was a primary concern,” said Fleming. “That it is something meaningful for our Sailors and the people of Guam.”
GNWR was established in 1993, to protect and recover endangered species, protect the habitat, protect cultural resources, and provide recreational and educational opportunities to the public.
In the future, Fleming hopes the trail will be a recognized attraction, and that Frank Cable Sailors will have a devoted interest in the maintenance of the trail.
“I hope to see it used by the locals, and the native people, who want to go out and rub shoulders with history,” said Fleming. “If it’s used, I’m excited, and I feel like we’ve done all we can do.”
Frank Cable conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in U.S. 7th Fleet area of Responsibility.