If you are a patient in dire need of medical treatment, then you stand a good chance of getting to visit the USS Kearsarge. Many having heard of the ship thought they would be able to get a glimpse of this piece of work but this is not so. Only patients who have been screened by the medical team and have been identified for surgeries will be boarding the ship.
Well yesterday members of the local media fraternity were given the opportunity to tour the ship.
The media operatives were told to assemble at the National Convention Centre where they were told that they would be transported by the Sea Hawk helicopters to the Kearsarge.
After a brief wait the two helicopters arrived. The idea in everyone’s mind was ‘it was going to be a fun ride’ on board the choppers. However, before boarding the choppers they were all made to ‘gear up’. It was safety first and there was a brief safety session by one of the Kearsarge members before boarding the choppers.
Each media operative was made to wear an emergency life vest and flying helmets equipped with ear muffs and goggles. Once they were all geared up it was time to board the aircrafts. Having been made to form a single file line they all boarded the aircraft.
Many lamented of the rules they were made to follow before boarding the choppers.
Once the choppers were off the ground it was no turning back even for those who expressed fears of flying.
After being told that the Kearsarge was some 17 miles off of Guyana’s coast lines, many were expecting a long ride in the air. To many the chopper ride ended too fast as the journey aboard the chopper took less than fifteen minutes.
Before one could wink the media crew was already on the vessel. Once the crew managed to get themselves together after the ride, which shook up some, they were all treated to refreshments before a media briefing was held.
While having refreshments, the media crew was once again introduced to three of the five Guyanese natives who are a part of the USS Kearsarge team. The three Guyanese, Jerome Marks, Keith Vanier and Charmaine Wellington, were the Guyanese present on the ship at the time as the other two Nikkia Phillips and Rayburn Messiah were otherwise engaged. Wellington, Vanier and Marks were delighted to interact with the media personnel who promised to assist them with locating their relatives.
They each shared their experiences, talking of what they were told about Guyana. But they all shared similar sentiments about their first impression.
“It’s amazing the way the Guyanese embraced us; once they heard that we were Guyanese, they all welcomed us with open arms,” Wellington said. For Wellington, she has since managed to locate her grandmother and has been given all assurance by her superiors that she will be given time to visit her grandmother.
Wellington migrated to the United States when she was at the tender age of three. Her one wish is to see Guyanese celebrate Mashramani as she said she has heard so much of the celebration.
For Vanier, who originated from Linden, he has already made friends and also located his family. He said he is looking forward to playing a game of cricket which he hasn’t done in years. Vanier has been apart of the US Navy for the past fifteen years and said he has no intention of leaving since it has opened several opportunities for him.
Well as they say, time flies when you’re having fun as it was really fun and more so informative, interacting with the three Guyanese.
Then it was time for the media briefing by the ship’s Captain, Fernandez ‘Frank’ Ponds.
The media was once again briefed on the USS Kearsarge Mission and what they will be doing over the next two weeks. This was then followed by a tour of the ship.
The Kearsarge, which is equipped with a variety of expeditionary mission capabilities, including rapid projected humanitarian assistance worldwide, weighs 14,500 tons.
The USS Kearsarge is an amphibious ship in service since 1993, was built in the shipyard Ingalls, Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is equipped with hospital beds and six state-of-the-art operating rooms as well as a fully computerized x-ray facility.
The ship also has the capacity to store some ten thousand units of blood for up to ten years.
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