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South American Submarines Enhance U.S. Navy's Fleet Readiness

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050414-06
Release Date: 4/14/2005 2:01:00 PM

By Chief Journalist (SW/AW) Mark O. Piggott, Commander, U.S. Submarine Forces Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- In a joint agreement with Colombia and Peru, one diesel-electric submarine from each of these two countries is deploying to the United States in April to enhance fleet readiness by participating in a number of naval exercises.

BAP Antofagasta (SS 32) from Peru and ARC Pijao (SO 28) from Colombia have begun a deployment to participate in major Atlantic Fleet exercises, including Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) for the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Carrier Strike Group.

The first training opportunity to utilize these diesel-electric submarines as opposition forces is Smart Search '05, an annual anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise, which began April 11.

"Providing the fleet the chance to train with actual diesel submarines from partner nations - vice using our SSNs in a simulated role - will add important realism and enhance ASW skills," said Juan Fernandez, tactical director for analysis, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT).

The proliferation of diesel-electric submarines by potential adversaries is a growing security concern, which is why improving the U.S. Navy's ASW skills is a high priority, according to Fernandez.

"This deployment by our South American partners is a cooperative effort with mutual benefit for all parties," Fernandez said. "We will enhance our ASW capabilities, and they will advance their readiness and skills. Throughout the exercises, we will also improve interoperability between our navies."

In addition to fleet training, Antofagasta and Pijao will support the Office of Naval Research's ASW research and development programs.

This cooperation is based upon a long-standing relationship between the United States and South American nations. For more than 45 years, UNITAS, the premier naval exercise in the region, has been a uniting event, bringing nations together to enhance the region's defense and promote military interoperability.

Since 2002, South American diesel-electric submarines have been integrated into various U.S. naval exercises, allowing operators to search for real diesel-electric submarines. Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command has designated COMSUBLANT as the program executor and overall coordinator to work with Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command. Each deployed submarine will spend two to five months in the United States, with most of the time underway for operational training.

Naval Station Mayport, Fla., will be the temporary homeport for Antofagasta and Pijao during their deployment.

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