QUIRIQUINA ISLAND, Chile (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to guided-missile frigates USS Boone (FFG 28) and USS Thach (FFG 43) visited the Chilean navy Recruit Training Facility Escuela de Gru-metes on Quiriquina Island, Chile, June 14.
Seventy Sailors visited Escuela de Grumetes for a tour, sporting competitions and the opportunity to learn more about the Chilean navy enlisted sailors.
After riding a ferry to the island, the Sailors were welcomed by Chilean navy Capt. Enrique Marin Palma, director of Escuela de Grumetes. The Sailors received a tour of the training facility which hosts more than 1100 recruits each year.
"It was a cool experience to meet the U.S. Sailors and show them around," said Seaman Apprentice Jonathan Torrejon Franco, a recruit on the island, who recently spent ten days embarked aboard USS Thach. "There is a feeling of brotherhood between us, which is very good."
The grumetes and Sailors spent the afternoon in a series of sporting events including soccer, volleyball and basketball at the school's sporting facilities.
"The highlight of our visit was playing basketball against the Chilean navy," said Yeoman 1st Class (SW/AW) Gary Harn, USS Thach. "I think this really builds camaraderie and by talking to them we realize we have a lot in common. We like the same sports, we laugh at the same jokes, and it's been a really good experience getting to know them on a personal level."
After the sports tournaments, U.S. Sailors were invited to dinner in the banquet hall where they had another opportunity to share stories and experiences. Sailors were served a traditional dinner of empanadas, beef and rice.
"Being able to see the extensive training these recruits go through, which helps them better prepare for the fleet, has been amazing," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Lucio Diaz, USS Thach. "Not to mention, we've been able to play some soccer with them and have a great time."
As the U.S. Sailors prepared to depart, one of the recruit instructors addressed the Sailors, telling them goodbye and commenting on the strong relations created between the U.S. and Chile.
"Our home is your home, and thank you for your friendship," said 1st Sergeant Octavio Hans Cantero Zamora.
Quiriquina Island is home to the Chilean navy and marine recruits who spend a year receiving basic seamanship training and military discipline. Upon graduation, they continue on to another year of specialty schools to learn their specific job.
The visit was planned weeks prior, when Boone and Thach senior enlisted leaders spent ten days at Escuela de Grumetes, May 20. The events are part of the Southern Seas 2011 deployment. Americans will spend six weeks in Chilean waters executing exercises to build partnership and communication between the two navies. The exercises will culminate in the multinational, Chilean-hosted Pacific phase of UNITAS.
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