U.S. Sailors Visit Chilean Recruit Training Command
QUIRIQUINA ISLAND, Chile – 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 U.S. Sailors visited Escuela de Grumetes for a tour, sporting competitions and the op-portunity to learn more about the Chilean navy enlisted sailors.
After riding a ferry to the island, the U.S. Sailors were welcomed by Chilean navy Capt. Enrique Marin Palma, director of Escuela de Grumetes. The Sailors received a tour of the training facility from seaman apprentices. The facility is hosts to more than 1100 recruits each year.
“It was a cool experience to meet the U.S. Sailors and show them around,” said Seaman Appren-tice Jonathan Torrejon Franco, a recruit on the island, who recently spent ten days embarked aboard Thach. “There is a feeling of brotherhood between us, which is very good and I hope you have liked our home.”
The grumetes and Sailors spent the afternoon in a series of sporting events. The participants competed in 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, who is assigned to 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 have dinner in the banquet hall with the recruits. Sailors were served a traditional dinner of empanadas, beef and rice. The dinner gave the participants another opportunity to share stories and experiences.
“Being able to see the extensive training these recruits go through, which helps them better pre-pare for the fleet, has been amazing,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Lucio Diaz, who is assigned to 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, 20 May. The events are part Southern Seas 2011 deployment. Ameri-cans will spend six weeks in Chilean waters executing exercises to build partnership and com-munication between the two navies. The exercises will culminate in the multinational, Chilean-hosted Pacific phase of UNITAS.
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