Bahia Malaga - USS CURTS recently went to Bahia Malaga for a theatre security cooperation port visit designed to strengthen ties with the Colombian Navy (COLNAV). It was only a three day stop but was filled with action all the way through. As the ship eased onto the pier, all hands topside decked in service dress whites, the Colombian Navy Marching Band began to play celebratory selections. The first night in port featured a reception on the flight deck hosted by CURTS for COLNAV dignitaries and their spouses. The reception featured a speech from CDR Espinoza, Commanding Officer of USS CURTS, thanking COLNAV for having us, en espanol. That was followed by a welcoming speech by Vice Admiral Rodolfo Amaya Kerguelen, Commandant of the Colombian Pacific Fleet, in which CDR Espinoza translated in English for the crew. The night was filled with great food prepared by the ship’s culinary specialists, drinks, music and smiling faces.
The next day would be even more exciting. Several members of our crew went on a tour deep into the jungles of Colombia where we enjoyed the serenity of two waterfalls and a fresh water spring. That serenity would soon turn to adventure as many sailors in the group began to jump off a rock into the pool water at the end of the waterfall. If that wasn’t enough of a work out, the crew returned to the base to kick off the sports day. The first sports challenge was tug of war, which we lost decidedly. The next two events were basketball and soccer and CURTS reigned victorious. The final sport of the day was volleyball, which handed us another lost. We walked away from the day’s events 2-2. Other members of the crew enjoyed an educational tour of the self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) and fully-submersible vessel museum located on the pier. This gave members of the crew a better understanding the types of vessels used for transnational organized crime.
Later that evening, a few of the ship’s crew participated in a reception hosted by COLNAV at their enlisted officer’s club. Vice Admiral Kerguelen gave another speech and presented CDR Espinoza with a coin and a plaque with the symbol of a bullet on it, “metal caliente sobre el objetivo” (hot metal on target), he says as they shake hands. CDR Espinoza also presented Vice Admiral Kerguelen, Captain Christian Gonzalez, Commanding Officer of Malaga Naval Base and Commander Juan Alvaro Pastrana, Commanding Officer of ARC Valle Del Cauca with plaques on behalf of USS CURTS for their hospitality. After the formal presentations, members of the CURTS and COLNAV enjoyed food, drinks and dancing and casual conversation. The next day CURTS departed Bahia Malaga and rolled into a PASSEX (an exercise simulating how we would collaborate with COLNAV to vector and intercept a go-fast having formed a greater bond with a foreign navy and enjoyed a great port visit in the process.