VALPARAISO, Chile (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson visited Chile, July 28, to meet with Chilean navy leadership, recognize the country's contribution to Pacific maritime security and discuss ways in which the U.S. and Chilean navies can continue to grow their partnership.
During the visit, Richardson toured Chile's National Tsunami Early Warning Center, presented awards to Chilean naval officers and met with his Chilean counterpart, Adm. Julio Leiva Molina.
The visit is part of a series of engagements in South America, beginning with the Inter-American Naval Conference (IANC) in Colombia, where 18 heads of navies met to discuss strengthening partnerships and increasing maritime cooperation.
At IANC, Richardson praised Chile's leadership in the multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
"Chile is participating for the 12th time, but in a historic first, the Chilean Commodore Pablo Niemann serves as the combined forces maritime component commander, in effect, commanding all maneuvering afloat forces in a series of high-end warfare missions," said Richardson. "This role is a worthy opportunity to showcase the Armada de Chile's first-class capabilities."
During his visit, CNO presented the legion of merit to two Chilean naval attache officers aboard the Chilean navy flag ship CNS Williams (FF 19) in recognition of their work to expand the partnership between the U.S. and Chile.
"These types of relationships are very important and allow us to combine our forces, not only to maximize our naval power, but also to bring our countries closer together," said Richardson. "The work of our two awardees is a fantastic example of the power of diplomacy to enhance naval and national relationships."
CNO's visit coincided with the 200-year anniversary of the Chilean navy, and Richardson congratulated Armada de Chile on their historic milestone.
"Two hundred years is a remarkable anniversary," said Richardson. "There's not many navies in the world that can mark 200 years of service to their country. To all of the sailors in the Chilean navy, my very best wishes-I hope you are very proud of what you do to secure the freedom of seas that is the engine which fuels the Chilean economy and secures Chile from attack from anybody who dare to take her on," Richardson added.