PUNTARENAS, Costa Rica (NNS) -- A Security Force Assistance (SFA) Mobile Training Team (MTT) detachment from the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) command taught a basic engine and generator engine maintenance course to 23 Costa Rican coast guard sailors Aug. 16 to Sept. 3.
The course consisted of classroom instruction and practical application laboratories. The skills developed during the course will help the ten-year-old Costa Rican coast guard make better use of its fleet of donated U.S. Coast Guard maritime patrol boats.
Costa Rican Coast Guard Cmdr. Adrian Delgado oversees all of the maintenance for the coast guard and said his crew will take what they have learned from the MCAST MTT and pass it on to future sailors.
"Some of my mechanics already had basic maintenance experience," Delgado said. "Now they all know how to overhaul an engine and can translate to others coming up through the ranks what they learned through this course."
The concept Delgado spoke of is what MCAST refers to as "training the trainers". The intention is to have MTTs work with a small group of host country military and give them the skills necessary to train their own personnel in the future. Another intended outcome of the training is to strengthen a host nation's military and help the country to police international maritime waters and protect themselves from waterborne threats without relying on U.S. resources.
Delgado said he is looking forward to the next time MCAST can train his crew in other areas of competency.
"We would like courses in operations, communications, electronic repairs and electronic maintenance," Delgado said. "The U.S. Navy has so many resources and experience on many platforms. We have much to learn still and welcome any future opportunity to work with the Navy."
Costa Rican Coast Guard Mechanic Fransico Mora has been with the coast guard since its inception and said their role has greatly changed since he first joined.
"Before the coast guard used to spend about 80 percent of their time protecting the environment and 20 percent of their time interdicting drug traffic," Mora said. "Now it's the opposite and we spend about 80 percent of our time preventing drug trafficking and only 20 percent dealing with environmental issues. That's why it's important that we get our boats up and running their best because now we have to be able to stop speed boats."
In addition to basic engine and generator maintenance, MCAST MTT taught the Costa Rican coast guard sailors safety practices before overhauling a set of diesel engines. The trainers also taught the sailors about the Navy's Maintenance, Material, and Management (3M) system and how keeping electronic copies of maintenance records, documentation, and scheduling is more efficient and reliable than in print alone.
Engineman 1st Class (SW/AW) James B. Elgin, MCAST MTT instructor, was one of the three trainers who spent time teaching and working side by side with Costa Rican coast guardsmen.
Elgin said traveling to Costa Rica to teach boat maintenance and help fix a couple of engines was just a small part of the overall mission.
"On a bigger scale it shows a lot of good interest," Elgin said. "I think this is a good mission, putting our hand out to them and showing them we're here for them. These guys patrol for narcotics, pirates, and for us to come down here and help them, it makes them safer and it makes the world safer."
SFA detachments from MCAST collaborate with foreign militaries in support of security cooperation and foreign internal defense missions. The cooperative engagements include topics such as small boat operations and tactics, maritime combat operations, weapons handling, anti-terrorism and force protection, maintenance and construction, and officer and non-commissioned officer professional development and leadership. This training is one of many military-to-military exchanges planned in the coming years between MCAST and the U.S. Navy's strategic partners in Costa Rica.
For more information on the MCAST command, visit www.mcast.navy.mil or www.facebook.com/pages/Maritime-Civil-Affairs-and-Security-Training-MCAST-Command/165833618708?ref=nf.
For more news from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/MCAST/.