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U.S. Navy Supports FSM COVID-19 Preparations
March 23, 2020

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 preparations in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the U.S. Navy is assisting in the construction of a quarantine facility in Pohnpei, which includes the installation of shower stalls, doors and windows. The facility will serve as a quarantine station, if needed for COVID-19 related cases.

group of people
BU2 Carlson briefing U.S. Ambassador Carmen G. Cantor and Pohnpei State Governor Reed B. Oliver during a recent site visit to the Sokehs Pah Elementary School project.

In the state of Yap, The Seabees from the Naval Mobile Construction Five (NMCB5) are anticipating construction of 13 handwashing stations throughout the island. Lt. Bradford Garrigues described the enduring presence of the U.S. Seabees, who first arrived in 1969: “Over the last ten years, Seabees have only deployed for short visits and projects. But the people of Yap have a long memory and are quick to tell us stories of projects and community events that took place decades ago when they were children. Today, we are reestablishing a presence with our FSM partners in a way not seen since the 1990’s. It is very exciting to play such a key role in establishing Detail Yap and continuing the Seabees-in-Yap story.”

Lt. Brad Garrigues, Henry Falan (right), and William Domingo (center), attend the grand opening of Tamilang Elementary School’s new cafeteria. U.S. Navy Seabees are deployed to Yap to plan potential projects and strengthen and build relationships and partnerships. (photo by Kevin Appleby/released)

Currently, NMCB5 is also building a library/computer lab at the Sokehs Pah Elementary School. This building will serve 140 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. “The best part has been working around and getting to know the students of Sokehs Pah Elementary School. Every day when we pull in, we’re welcomed with smiles and friendly waves. The community has been extremely welcoming of us and everyone we interact with is happy to see what this once-old school building is becoming with our help,” said Builder Second Class Petty Officer (BU2) Christian Carlson, NMCB5 Crew Leader.

In addition to the Sokehs Pah Elementary School library/computer lab, NMCB5 is also constructing handwashing stations throughout Pohnpei. This project is in partnership with UNICEF, International Organization for Migration IOM), Pohnpei Environmental Protection Agency, Pohnpei Department of Health, Pohnpei Department of Education, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “Nothing that I have ever done in my life compares to this deployment in Pohnpei. My hometown near Chicago is thousands of miles away, and I’ve been away from home for a long time now. But the people and communities of U, Kitti, and Sokehs have made me feel like I’m back home working in my cousins’ back yards.

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Officer in Charge Lt. Brian Wood, NMCB5, testing the handwashing station with students from Awak Elementary School.

It’s been a wonderful experience to work supporting kids looking to grow up and become leaders in these same communities, as well as the rest of the world. It’s also just great fun, and Pohnpei is a beautiful place to be” said Officer in Charge Lt. Brian Wood, NMCB5.

The U.S. Navy is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region, conducting high-quality construction projects, in order to bolster U.S. and FSM bilateral relations, deter foreign aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection.