PUNTA ARENAS, Chile (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigates USS Boone (FFG 28) and USS Thach (FFG 43) departed Punta Arenas, Chile, May 24 after spending four days participating in events with the Chilean navy and community.
U.S. Sailors attended Glorias Navales, a national navy celebration, and engaged in ship tours and volunteer projects with Chilean navy partners.
"For the Chilean people, May 21st is a very important reminder of national history," said Vice Adm. Rafael Gonzalez Rosenqvist, commander of the Third Naval District in Chile. "The day honors a simple navy officer who loved his family and sacrificed his life in battle. Chileans celebrate this day every year in remembrance of what one man can do for his country."
The celebration began with a military parade. A platoon from each of the Chilean armed services participated in the ceremony, rendering honors to the history of the Chilean naval service. The parade included a 21-gun salute and a wreath-laying ceremony. The commanding officers of Boone and Thach attended and presented a flower display of the U.S. flag to honor the day.
The Glorias Navales celebration ended with a reception where service members from both navies and city officials could exchange stories and get acquainted.
"Chile is a maritime country and you can see the primacy of the Chilean navy through the Glorias Navales events," said Lt. Cmdr. Luke Gunnels, assistant Navy section chief, U.S. Military Group Chile.
The weekend was followed by a series of joint-navy interactions. More than 30 Chilean officers from the surrounding naval bases were invited to tour Thach, May 23. Sailors from both nations also volunteered at Colegio Ro Seco, a local elementary school where they spent the morning painting and doing minor electrical repairs.
During the next six weeks, Boone and Thach will work with the Chilean navy in a series of small exercises leading up to multinational exercises in the Pacific (PAC) phase of UNITAS 52, hosted by the Chilean navy.
The exercises are designed to increase interoperability, build trust and cooperation between the navies, and promote security and stability in the region.
"The officers and crew of both Thach and Boone are excited about working with our partners in the Chilean navy during the next six weeks," said Cmdr. Jeff Scudder, USS Thach commanding officer. "Commemorating such an important event at the start of our interaction with the Chilean navy will serve to quickly establish our ties. I know it has begun camaraderie, friendship and trust between us."
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