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Fleet Survey Team Conducts Survey, Demonstration in Peru

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110509-12

By Rebecca Burke, Naval Oceanographic Office, Public Affairs

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NNS) -- Fleet Survey Team (FST), based at Stennis Space Center in Southern Mississippi, took an active role in supporting the goal of SOUTHCOM's Ocean Southern Partnership Station initiative by demonstrating its hydrographic capabilities to the Peruvian Navy, May 1.

O-SPS aims to build partnerships and inner-operability with the nations of South America.

One group, led by Charles Baptiste, conducted a safety of navigation survey, with three primary areas of interest near the Port of Callao and a secondary area off the coast of a nearby island. Unique to this survey was the first-time use of the Gulf Gator, one of FST's new SEA ARC vessels.

Two members of the Peruvian Navy Hydrographic Office, Direccion de Hidrografia y Navegacion (DHN), joined the survey team each day in order to understand the technology and capabilities of the vessel, as their office is interested in purchasing one of their own in the near future.

Lt. Keith Plavnick led a second group to conduct an expeditionary survey demonstration, also held in Callao. Using a small water craft provided by the Peruvians as a survey boat of opportunity, the team briefed the office's commanding officer and ten other experts on the use of single-beam and sidescan sonar to support near-shore, expeditionary hydrography requirements.

With more than 1,500 miles of coastline, expanding their capabilities to include expeditionary survey techniques provides the Peruvians with additional methods to understand and characterize the littoral environment, while also ensuring safety of navigation in these critically shallow areas.

"Despite the fact that the gear the Peruvians were using was from the early '90s, they have a surprisingly large hydrographic community of subject matter experts and are very familiar with our software and equipment," said Chief Aerographer's Mate Enrique Acosta.

Both teams report the Peruvians were very attentive and eager to learn about FST's equipment and capabilities. While completion of the surveys was foremost on the team members' minds, the resounding success of this O-SPS operation, in conjunction with the concurrent white ship demonstration, will lay the foundation for future collaboration between both Navies and central governments.

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