USS MITSCHER, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Mitscher (DDG 57), a unit of Partnership of the Americas (PAO) Task Group 40.0, and participants from Chile, Columbia, Peru, and the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard completed UNITAS 48-07 Pacific Phase on June 26.
The exercise included such events as underway replenishments, tactical ship maneuvering exercises, helicopter operations, search and rescue operations, marine interdiction operations, transiting under submarine threats and submarine familiarization training exercises.
"Working with the Chilean frigate Almirante Latorre (FFG 14) was both educational and challenging," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Aaron Plaskon. "It was interesting to see the differences between the technology and capabilities of the systems on each ship. We learned how to adapt to each other."
The training during UNITAS culminated in a scripted scenario that involved two multinational forces and a potential conflict at sea. The purpose of this scenario was to test the ability of forces to respond to short notice tasking and crisis action planning, and practice operating with units from different countries.
During the scenario Mitscher was tasked with investigating and boarding ships suspected of carrying contraband, all the while searching for a potential submarine threat. Mitscher's crew honed their anti-submarine warfare skills while countering the threat of an enemy submarine attack.
The crew's focus was to avoid detection while maintaining the entire surface picture. This opportunity allowed for many hours of both active and passive tracking for the anti-submarine warfare teams to locate, track, and prosecute Peruvian submarine BAP Arica (SS-36), a UNITAS Pacific 48-07 participant.
"This was the best time for me to be a sonar technician," said Sonar Technician Surface Seaman Charles Schaefer, Mitscher's leading sonar technician. "In six years, I have never had the opportunity to train so much. During the exercise we were able to use our equipment to its full potential and do the job we have been training for. More so, it was great training for new sonar technicians to have the opportunity to prosecute a submarine in a real world environment instead of in a simulator."
UNITAS participants included Chilean oiler Araucano (AO-53), Colombian frigate Independiente (FL-54), Peruvian frigate Palacios (FM-56), Peruvian submarine Arica, U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) and elements of Task Group 40.0, which consists of Chilean frigate Almirante Latorre, dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and guided-missile destroyer Mitscher.
Task Group 40.0 is currently deployed in support of POA 2007 under the leadership of Capt. Randy Snyder, commander Destroyer Squadron 40. POA focuses on enhancing relationships with regional partner nations through a variety of exercises and events at sea and ashore throughout South America and the Caribbean.
For more news from Destroyer Squadron 40, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/desron40/.