Guam – The US Coast Guard Cutter SEQUOIA and her crew of 54 visited the atolls of Chuuk State islands of Nomwin and Murilo last Thursday and Friday.
SEQUOIA completed a humanitarian mission of delivering supplies and providing training to the citizens living on the remote islands in the outer Carolines. SEQUOIA’s crew offloaded medical and hygiene supplies from Project Handclasp, a US Navy program, in addition to supplies donated from the Ayuda Foundation, Oceania Community Health organization, and the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society on Guam.
The several tons of Project Handclasp supplies included basic hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, and other sanitary supplies. The pallets also included first aid provisions, including bandages and gauze. The U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society on Naval Base Guam provided hundreds of additional necessities such as clothes, books, toys, and tools donated by military families serving in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force.
In coordination with Ms. Carlotta Leon Guerrero, SEQUOIA was able to transport additional supplies provided by the Ayuda (Chamorro for “help”) Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Guam which is dedicated to improving the quality of life on the remote islands in Micronesia. The Ayuda Foundation donated plastic barrels for fresh water catchment systems and school supplies. Containers for water catchment remain one of the most important items as oftentimes rain is the only supply of fresh water and it is hard to come by during the dry winter months. SEQUOIA pumped several hundred gallons of fresh water to the islands via the plastic barrels.
SEQUOIA’s crew carried supplies to the local gathering place in each island where the mayor distributed amongst families. The Commanding Officer, LCDR Greg Somers, met with the local leaders and described SEQUOIA’s mission, striving to better understand their needs and looking ahead to future meetings. The crew was able to interact and meet with the island residents, providing a once-in-a-lifetime chance for cultural exchange; crewmembers were able to trade candy, knives, watches, sunglasses, and other luxuries for shells, handicrafts, and Japanese glass floats.
After delivering supplies, SEQUOIA provided training on basic Search and Rescue (SAR) concepts and equipment. Petty Officer First Class Geraldine Cabrera and Petty Officer Jared Barnes explained the use and importance of various survival gear such as flares, signal mirrors, smoke producing devices, and other common distress signals. They also distributed and explained standard Float Plans that contain critical voyage information to assist the US Coast Guard in the event of a missing boater. Petty Officer Cabrera detailed her reaction to the training by saying, “ It was very rewarding to see the islanders truly understand the importance of SAR and the basic things they can do to help any SAR efforts like wear bright clothes and file a Float Plan with their island.”
Petty Officer Jonathan Edwards, SEQUOIA’s Independent Duty Health Services Technician, was able to administer basic first aid and provide direction on the medical and hygiene products delivered to the islands. Upon request, he trained residents in treating some common afflictions
such as sunburn and heat exhaustion, in addition to completing a CPR demonstration.
SEQUOIA is continuing its humanitarian efforts and the next stop is Ulithi Atoll in Yap State, FSM. SEQUOIA will be delivering relief supplies similar to those provided to Nomwin and Murlio, in addition to offloading items used to complete construction of the island’s clinic devastated by a typhoon.
SEQUOIA, based on Guam, is manned by a crew of seven officers and 47 enlisted personnel. It is the 15th Juniper Class sea-going buoy tender and the 10th “B-Class” cutter built by Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisc. SEQUOIA’s primary missions are maintaining aids to navigation, search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental protection and homeland security. It is 225-feet long with twin diesel engine propulsion, bow and stern thrusters and advanced maneuverability capabilities that make it the world’s premier buoy-tending platform.