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Story Number: NNS080608-02
Release Date: 6/8/2008 9:12:00 PM

By Ensign Brian C. Caldwell, Commander Destroyer Squadron 40 Public Affairs

ARICA, Chile (NNS) -- The Guided Missile Frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) visited Arica, Chile from MAY 25-28 in support of Partnership of Americas 08. This was the first visit to Arica by a U.S. Navy ship in over 20 years.

While in Arica, Kauffman Sailors strengthened ties with Chile by participating in many local community events. A wreath laying ceremony honoring Chile's most honored sailor, Capt. Arturo Prat, was among the special events. Many sailors also had the opportunity to play against local sporting teams and be a part of a reception hosted on board their ship, honoring 40 of Arica's most distinguished citizens.

Cmdr. Bob Cepek, commanding officer USS Kauffman, said the visit with the Chileans strengthened the bond between the two countries and will help initiate future events.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed our interactions with the Chilean Navy and the people in social and professional settings," said Cepek. "I'm impressed by the professionalism of the Chilean forces and feel we have strengthened our ties with one another. I look forward to continuing to operate with them in the future."

During the wreath laying ceremony, Kauffman's honor guard marched side by side with the Chilean Navy as the national anthems of each nation were played. One by one, the Chilean and the United States flags were raised over the central plaza of Arica to symbolize the strong relationship between the two nations and their navies.

USS Kauffman's executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Drew Ehlers said he will remember it as one of the most extraordinary events of his career.

"I have seen and done a lot over my career but seeing two nations come together to show the honor and respect they have for each other in an event like this is one of the most memorable events I have been apart of," said Ehlers.

A baseball game between Kauffman and Arica citizens proved to be the most popular event of the visit. Kauffman fielded a team composed of enlisted and officer crewmembers, while local little league coaches batted for the Chilean team. As baseball is a relatively new sport in Arica, this game gave the little league coaches a chance to practice their skills and pick up tips from Kauffman Sailors.

Sporting events weren't the only way Kauffman Sailors interacted with locals. Many Sailors volunteered at a local school where they did preservation and repair work around the school grounds. Commodore of Destroyer Squadron 40, Capt. Rudy Laco, explained that this event not only provided the opportunity to help out a needy school but also helped our Sailors learn about Chile's cultural heritage.

"These types of events are very important to Kauffman as it provides a great opportunity for Sailors to see how the people of Chile live and experience a unique interaction with them," said Laco.

Kauffman, based out of Norfolk, is currently on deployment in support of U.S. Southern Command's Partnership of Americas 2008 (POA 08).

Kauffman with embarked Helicoptor Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 detachment 7, USS Farragut (DDG 99), and USS Forest Sherman (DDG 98) with embarked HSL 44 detachment 10 are assigned to Destroyer Squadron 40 to support POA 08 operations which will be held throughout South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. POA 08 emphasizes interoperability and cooperation between U.S. and partner nations' maritime forces through a variety of exercises and event.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit

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