USS STEPHEN W. GROVES, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command continued efforts at Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) by hosting a sunset reception for the Colombian navy aboard USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) in Cartagena, Colombia, June 15.
Capping an event-filled, four-day port visit for the ship in Cartagena, Rear Adm. James W. Stevenson Jr. received more than 75 guests aboard Groves. Attendees included Colombian Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mauricio Soto, Commander, Colombian Naval Forces Caribbean Adm. Alfonso Diaz, the commander of Colombia's ship repair organization Adm. Juan Vergara, and many other Colombian and international leaders.
Stephen W. Groves' Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jon Kreitz introduced Stevenson and Soto, who used the event to further strengthen the bond between Colombia and the United States in the global war on terrorism.
"Stephen W. Groves provided an outstanding venue to continue our close working relationship with the Colombian navy," said Stevenson. "Our navies are aligned on the importance of enhancing regional security through communication and cooperation. This ship's efforts are an example of the vital work that goes on day-in and day-out that furthers our shared maritime security objectives."
The sunset reception was the highlight of Stephen W. Groves port visit to Cartagena, which included a wide variety of interactions. U.S. and Colombian sailors held tactical discussions of counter narcotics trafficking methods, observed a combat systems scenario demonstration, and held training at the Colombian navy's firefighting school, in which several of the crew had the opportunity to use the facility. Each of these events supports TSC, which fosters regional support for the war on terrorism, counters transnational threats, and ensures regional stability.
After observing the combat systems scenario, the Colombian sailors commented on the differences between the two navies, especially the U.S. practice of delegation of authority and command by negation. They were surprised that junior personnel make many of the decisions in the combat environment.
"Our interaction with the Colombian navy showed us what true professionals they are," said Kreitz. "They were enthused to learn more about our warfighting methods, and especially interested in our Combat Systems Training Team concept and procedures."
In other events, the ship's U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) briefed their Colombian counterparts on surface vessel boarding techniques and the equipment and weapons they employ. The ship's Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 46 Air Detachment provided demonstrations with their embarked SH-60B Seahawk helicopter and explained its capabilities for helping stop the drug trafficking threat. The Enginemen aboard got a rare opportunity to watch the complete disassembly and reassembly of the powerful engines used in the Colombian navy's special operations small boat Midnight Express. Meanwhile, another group of Colombian sailors was briefed on Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) operations.
"The interaction we had with the Colombian navy was an excellent opportunity for all involved," said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Tim Seaman from the ship's embarked LEDET. "Their willingness to exchange information gave both of our teams valuable new insights on how to conduct boarding operations and gave our team a new appreciation for the dedication and professionalism of our Colombian counterparts."
All of these professional exchanges culminated with a sports day and barbeque that saw the Colombian sailors defeat Stephen W. Groves in basketball 21-19, but the crew came back on the softball diamond with a 10-9 victory.
Stevenson's sunset reception for the Colombian navy aboard Stephen W. Groves and the professional exchanges with Colombian counterparts continued the robust TSC efforts between the United States and Colombia. The Colombian navy will participate, along with many other regional partners, in a variety of upcoming maritime exercises, such as the Pacific phase of UNITAS, hosted by Chile, and PANAMAX 2006, led by the government of Panama.
For more information on Stephen W. Groves, visit www.groves.navy.mil/.
For more information on U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.cusns.navy.mil/.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cusns/.