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Klakring Passes Through Strait of Magellan

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100616-13

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Michael J. Scott, Commander Task Group 40.0 Public Affairs

USS KLAKRING, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Klakring (FFG 42), Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HSL) 42 Detachment 10 and embarked Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 transited through the Strait of Magellan June 4.

Positioned along the southern edges of South America, this once vital passageway is named for the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, the first person to pass through this waterway into the Pacific.

The waterway is the most important natural passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, but is a very dangerous route to navigate because of the unpredictable winds, strong currents and narrow passes.

"This passage tests the skills, nerve and endurance of those who undertake the challenge but it provides a reward beyond description; the sights, the smells and the memories contribute to one's life experience," said Cmdr. Scott M. Smith, Klakring's commanding officer. "These 200 Sailors are part of an elite group that have journeyed to the end of the earth – el fin del mundo – and returned."

Sailors went topside to capture the beautiful scenery on video recorders and cameras. Only one Sailor aboard Klakring had been through the strait before; everyone else wanted to be sure this experience was something they could share with their families and friends back home.

Cryptologic Technician Technical Seaman Justin Blakely said he made a point to look out and see the scenery.

"This is awesome," said Blakely. "I want to make sure my family doesn't miss this. I'm keeping my camera with me at all times."

After an overnight stop in Punta Arenas, Chile, Klakring navigated her way through the most treacherous part of the straits. Punta Arenas was an essential supply port for ships passing through before the Panama Canal opened.

During her transit, the ship passed through areas where mountains stood on both sides and only a few hundred yards lie in between them. Although very beautiful, it meant the crew had to take extra precautions to make it safely through.

"The partnership between the highly professional Chilean pilots and our navigation teams was pivotal to the successful completion of the voyage, but it takes more than just navigation and seamanship," said Smith. "The engineers and combat systems personnel ensured that propulsion, electricity, radar and sounding gear were always available, while supply personnel kept everyone fed and warm drinks flowing. It was a team effort all around."

The strait was the chosen route around the continent by steam ships before the Panama Canal opened in 1914. Sheltered by mainland South America and the Tierra Del Fuego Islands, this route was considered much faster and safer than the Drake Passage, the violent stretch of water between South America and Antarctica that is plagued with icebergs and gale-force winds.

Klakring, as part Task Group 40.0, is on a six-month deployment to South America and the Caribbean as part of Southern Seas 2010 (SS10). SS10 is an annual U.S. Southern Command-directed operation implemented by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and executed by DESRON 40 as Commander, Task Group 40.0. SS10 focuses on conducting a variety of exercises and multinational exchanges to enhance interoperability, increase regional stability and build and maintain regional relationships with partner nations. SS10 includes the guided-missile frigate, Klakring, HSL 42 Detachment 10 and DESRON 40 serving as the command element.

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