GW Strike Group Commander Visits Colombian Navy in Cartagena

Story Number: NNS060515-04Release Date: 5/15/2006 9:28:00 AM
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By Lt. Jodie Cornell, USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

CARTAGENA, Colombia (NNS) -- Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10/Commander, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG), Rear Adm. Joseph K. Kilkenny visited the Colombian naval base here May 9-11 for a chance to tour the base, interact with Colombian sailors and foster goodwill.

Along with Kilkenny, Sailors from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40, George Washington and USS Monterey (CG 61) went to conduct training and tour the naval base and ships there before a scheduled bilateral exercise between the U.S. and Colombian navies May 11-12. The exercise is part of "Partnership of the Americas."

"This was a great opportunity to train with the Colombians," Kilkenny said. "We need to keep up relations with our important Latin American allies, train and share ideas on how we can work closer together in future operations."

During Kilkenny's visit, he toured a Colombian frigate, a type 209 diesel sub and small boat recon team base. He also got to visit a coast guard base and ride in their "Midnight Express" speed boats.

"I was very impressed with how professional the Colombian sailors are. The visit was a great success," said Kilkenny.

While Kilkenny toured the base, U.S. Sailors gave training to their Colombian counterparts. Some of the training that was conducted consisted of underway replenishment training; visit, board, search and seizure training; air defense training and force protection training. They also had the chance to tour Colombian ships and plan for the bilateral exercise.

"The training went extremely well. The Colombian bilateral exercise not only allowed the U.S. to work with one of our South American allies, but also helped to bring the Colombian navy and air force together. The Colombian navy and air force typically do not operate together, and the combined exercise that was conducted allowed some of this integration to take place," said Lt. Cmdr. David T. Mundy from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121. "Hopefully, we will follow up this exercise with more bilateral exercises with the southern hemisphere in the future. Colombians take great pride in their armed forces. Ships and aircraft were well maintained, and the military is looked upon in society as a positive, sought-after career."

The visit concluded with a reception held by Adm. Mauricio Soto, the commander of the Colombian navy, at the officers' club on base.

"I feel the Colombians welcomed us with opened arms and appear to be very appreciative of our visit. Their hospitality was top quality," said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SW) Terrence R. Mitchell from DESRON 40. "I think the Colombian armed forces gained a lot of experience from our training and knowledge of how our Navy operates worldwide."

CSG 10 and assets from DESRON 40 are operating in the Caribbean Sea as part of GWCSG conducting Partnership of the Americas, a training and readiness deployment of U.S. naval forces with countries from the Caribbean and Latin America, in support of U.S. Southern Command objectives for enhanced maritime security.

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