TALCAHUANO, Chile (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigates USS Boone (FFG 28) and USS Thach (FFG 43) arrived in Talcahuano, Chile, June 10.
The port visit is being conducted as part of a six-month deployment in support of Southern Seas 2011.
While in Talcahuano, Boone and Thach Sailors will work closely with Chilean naval partners and local residents to promote military and cultural bonds.
U.S. and Chilean sailors will deliver Project Handclasp materials to the U.S. embassy to be distributed later to Valdivia, Chile residents displaced by the Puyehue Volcano eruption that occurred June 4.
Project Handclasp is an official Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill materials overseas on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the volcanic eruptions," said Cmdr. Roy Love, Boone's commanding officer. "Our participation and aide is an example of how the partnerships we create extend beyond naval exercises."
More than 30 Sailors will volunteer at Public School Talcahuano, June 13 to perform community outreach projects to include painting and grounds maintenance for the school.
"Volunteering and donating are great ways for us to reach out and show that we care about what's going on," said Ens. David Lovejoy, Thach's community outreach coordinator. "It is always great to meet the local community. To have the opportunity to do so with local sailors is an opportunity to learn about Chilean navy interaction with their communities, and to become a part of that connection."
While in port, Chilean navy ships CNS Cochrane (FF 05) and CNS Araucano (AO 53) will serve as hosts to Boone and Thach. Sailors from those ships will participate in spend time visiting those of their counterparts.
"The more time we spend with partners, the more we realize our goals are alike," said Lt. j.g. Manny Brown from aboard Boone. "This realization goes a long way in enhancing military readiness and the effectiveness of multinational responses."
U.S Sailors will conduct several events with Chilean navy 'grumetes,' or recruits. More than 200 grumetes will tour Thach and Boone, for an introduction to the U.S.-Chile partnership and to witness the capabilities of the U.S. Navy.
U.S. Sailors will visit the Grumete School, the initial Chilean junior enlisted school, June 14. They will tour the school, and compete in sporting events before having dinner with the grumetes. The partnering will reinforce friendships created by Boone and Thach senior enlisted on a previous 10-day visit to the school, May 30.
"Building relationships with Chilean navy officers, enlisted leadership and their future sailors is vitally important to continue to build stronger ties between our navies," said Thach Command Senior Chief (CSC) (SW) Josh Gabriel.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th 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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