USS THACH, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) conducted flight operations with a Chilean navy helicopter during the Southern Seas 2011 transit of the Strait of Magellan, May 28.
The flight operation was completed successfully as the Chilean pilots flying the Dauphin AS-365N2 landed safely aboard Thach to fly a Chilean officer home on emergency leave.
The officer was temporarily assigned to Thach to assist in the transit of the Strait of Magellan. The passage gave sailors from both nations an opportunity to learn about ship handling, confined navigation, and communication.
Thach and USS Boone (FFG 28) are conducting operations with the Chilean navy for six weeks, culminating in the Chilean hosted Pacific phase of UNITAS 2011.
"The Chilean officers' knowledge of the waterway is unparalleled," said Lt. Cmdr. Rob Speight, USS Boone executive officer. "The Strait of Magellan was a highlight of my career and working with these professional officers gave my crew an opportunity to learn from and appreciate the skills of other navies"
The flight operation illustrated the ability of Thach's crew and the Chilean navy to adapt to new situations while continuing to perform professionally.
"It made me feel good that the training our Sailors have received has been put to good use," said Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW) Tim Lovelady, USS Thach helicopter control officer. "The operation went like any other helicopter we would land."
Thach and Boone took eight Chilean navy sailors aboard for the transit from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Puerto Monnt, Chile. Thach also has a Chilean officer assigned as a member of the crew for one year.
"We had a need, and both navies put forth efforts to meet that need," said Chilean Lt. j.g. Pablo Berg, assigned to Thach. "The interoperation between our navies enabled us to achieve a common goal. Our navies have different ways of doing things, but we were able to minimize our differences, and we showed that we can operate together."
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. FOURTH Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
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