PUERTO MONTT, Chile (NNS) -- Senior enlisted leaders from USS Thach (FFG 43) and guided-missile frigate USS Boone (FFG 28) arrived to Chilean navy Escuela de Grumetes for a 10-day visit May 20.
Command Master Chief (CMC) (SW/FMF) Charles Slaton, USS Boone, and Command Senior Chief (CSC) (SW) Josh Gabriel, USS Thach (FFG 43), focused on building relationships between the U.S. senior enlisted leaders and the Chilean recruits, or grumetes, creating an understanding of the similarities and differences between the navies while touring several specialty schools and training sites.
"The Chilean enlisted community is very similar to our Navy," said Slaton. "There are nine enlisted ranks and the senior enlisted leadership is tasked with building and training the junior enlisted sailors and junior officers. Their respect for each other up and down the chain of command is nothing less than superb."
The tour included stops at the rifle range, navy band training, culinary and boatswain's schools, and field training with the Chilean marine grumetes. Slaton and Gabriel spoke with more than 500 grumetes, Chilean sailors and civilian personnel about their life experiences, and similarities and differences amongst each navy.
"Walking around and interacting with Sailors is what we would do as senior enlisted leadership," said Gabriel. "We ask questions and look for concerns to find out what's on the mind of the young men and women proudly serving their country. Getting to do this at Escuela de Grumetes was a privilege, and showed me how alike our two navies are."
The visit also took place during Glorias Navales, a national navy celebration. Slaton and Gabriel visited the burial site of Capt. Arturo Prat, a Chilean naval officer who gave his life during a historic battle.
The visit included tours of several museums and concluded with a stop at the Monitor Huascar, a Peruvian ship captured by the Chilean navy in 1879, during war against Peru and Bolivia.
"We are all skilled sailors with roots based deep in tradition and pride in our service to our country and our fellow sailors," said Slaton. "This afforded us an opportunity to share information and learn from each other in regard to how we are similar and different, in an effort to understand and build a more capable multinational naval force."
"The chance to interact with sailors from Escuela de Grumetes was once in a lifetime experience," said Gabriel. "Not only did we have the opportunity to build relationships with our Chilean navy counterparts, we also made several friends in the process."
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