|The sailors aboard the visiting USS Curt are just starting a six month tour of duty that will see them sailing southwards down the Pacific, through the Panama Canal and into the Caribbean. They will have only two days leave this month. So, you have to admit it is a generous gift of precious time to spend one of those days painting the DIVAC facility here in Puerto Vallarta. The Navy League did its usual job of coordinating the reception of the 14 strong work-party, organizing transport to the site, ensuring all the necessary materials were available on time, helping out while work was in progress and - as a finishing touch - hosting the work-party to a splendid lunch at the Noria restaurant.
There are always a few hurdles to be dealt with on these Naval Community Relations projects (Comrels for short.) This time it was solving the problem of where to buy the necessary paint - when the two days prior to the sailors turning up for work included a Sunday followed by the Dia del Trabajo. A problem solved in the nick of time through the combined efforts of Ivan Applegate of Divac and Bill Clark of the Navy League.
The Divac premises are large. They provide training facilities for people with disabilities. Among the activities are computer operation, arts, silk-screening, weaving, English courses and more. Divac also provides ware-housing facilities for storing goods that are donated to various charities in the Puerto Vallarta area. The Navy League makes use of this space when medical and school supplies ware-housed in San Diego are brought down here by Navy or Coastguard vessels.
On this visit, the USS Curts' work-party, under the supervision of Ensigns Eric Steidle and Clinton Burr (PAO), concentrated on the extensive interior of the building. Before getting to the painting stage, the brick work required cleaning and an undercoat applied. A lot of electric fixtures had to be disconnected, taken off the walls and cleaned. Finally to be replaced once the walls were painted. With work over, the volunteers were invited to a great "shrimp and all the trimmings" lunch at the Noria restaurant.
Navy Leaguers involved on this occasion were Bill Clark, Jeff Miltenberger, Judy Sorrell. Jim DeVaney and Kathy Tailor. Later that night, Tom and Angela Lebrun entertained the Captain of the USS Curts, CDR William W DeBow, and the executive officer, LCDR Charleton Johnson at their home. One of the missions of the Navy League here in Puerto Vallarta is to provide a welcoming climate for all naval sailors who visit our port.
The USS Curts (FFG 38) is a guided missile frigate with an interesting history. Fifty-five of its particular class have been built and Australia owns four of them.
The Curts was .commissioned in 1983. Later in the 1980's the ship received a Commendation for its skill in tracking Soviet submarines during the cold war. During the allied attack on Iraq in 1991 ( Desert Storm) the Curts used its helicopters to capture a garrison on Qaruh Island in the northern Arabian Gulf, taking fifty-one Iraqi prisoners. Later it sank an Iraqi mine-layer vessel and took out a couple of mines.
In 1993, the ship underwent some modifications and upgrades that added a further eight feet to her length. After service alongside the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, the Curts found herself back in the Middle East, this time winning a Battle Efficiency Award.
More years of service with the Seventh Fleet in the Far East ended when the Curts adopted San Diego as its home port in 1997. International fame came to the Curts in 2004, when it secured the largest maritime seizure of cocaine (twelve tons) ever recorded.