RIGA, Latvia — On June 14, the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation and a U.S. Navy Construction Battalion officially opened two renovation projects in western Latvia.
The Ventspils Orphanage “Selga” received two new bathrooms and the Liepaja 8th High School received a refurbished auditorium. These projects were executed as part of the military exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010.
Thirty sailors from a U.S. Navy Construction Battalion, nicknamed Seabees, teamed up with Latvian contractors to complete both projects. In addition, a group of U.S. sailors and Marines participating in the exercise helped out at Liepaja’s Jurmala Park by repainting parts of the playground.
Exercises like BALTOPS provide a unique opportunity for U.S. military construction and engineering personnel to meet and assist the local community, in addition to their work with the exercise. They also provide the opportunity for Latvian companies to assist in these local community projects.
In the case of the “Selga” Orphanage, a Latvian company conducted the site preparation work of re-arranging the layout of the bathrooms to separate the shower rooms for girls and boys. The company then worked with the Seabees to retile the floors and walls and install new fixtures (toilets, showers, sinks, etc.). The Seabees and the contractor also managed to renovate the staff bathrooms at the orphanage. In the case of the Liepaja 8th High School, a local company provided all necessary materials and oversight for the Seabees to fix the stage floor and repair the walls in the auditorium.
These renovation projects are just some of the many projects undertaken by the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation in Latvia, in close cooperation with the Latvian Government and the Latvian National Armed Forces. The Office of Defense Cooperation is also working on a project to renovate corridors and toilets at the Liepaja Children and Youth Center on Krumu iela in Liepaja. Projects like these are possible because of the successful relationship between the U.S. military and its Latvian counterparts. The Latvian Armed Forces assisted with logistical support for the Seabees on all of these projects.
Financial support for the projects was provided by the U.S. European Command within the framework of its Civilian-Military Operations program that is in operation in many European countries. The total funding provided for these two projects was $42,000 (US).