BAHIA MALAGA, Colombia (NNS) -- USS New Orleans along with Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, and other embarked units arrived at Naval Base Bahia Malaga, Colombia July 31, as the third stop in support of this year's annual Amphibious-Southern Partnership Station (A-SPS) 2010.
A-SPS is the amphibious portion of Southern Partnership Station, which is a deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in Latin America and the Caribbean. The mission's primary goal is mission-focused information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region in order to enhance regional maritime capabilities and security.
This visit supports U.S. Southern Command goals of ensuring theater security, enhancing regional stability, and strengthening relationships among regional partners. New Orleans conducted exercises and multinational exchanges with Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to build on relationships built through previous SPS deployments. In addition to subject matter exchanges, A-SPS 10 conducted humanitarian and civic assistance through community relations projects and Project Handclasp deliveries in the local area of Bahia Malaga.
The ship and embarked units have planned several subject matter exchanges including damage control, firefighting, engineering, and medical. These exchanges take place aboard New Orleans, as well as a Colombian navy ship.
In addition to the professional exchanges, service members from the U.S. and partner nations participate in a sports day, some social events, and in painting a local school.
"This is a great opportunity to get out and interact with our Colombian counterparts," said PHIBRON 5 Commodore, Capt. Peter J. Brennan, A-SPS mission commander. "This professional exchange of knowledge and seamanship is a great way for all nations involved to learn from each other and to enhance their own processes. I am also thrilled that we can provide some extra manpower and supplies to a local school. I know the Sailors are really looking forward to it. The sign-up sheets asking for volunteers were filled up the first day."
The New Orleans, along with partner nations and Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 24 (SPMAGTF 24) most recently participated in both Partnership of the Americas 2010 and Southern Exchange 2010 in support of A-SPS, conducting joint amphibious operations in Salinas and Ancon, Peru.
Subject matter experts from the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay have been participating in cooperative training exercises, and information exchanges in a variety of subjects such as refueling at sea, boarding team operations, and damage control.
Service members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay deployed with New Orleans in order to facilitate interaction between their navies and the U.S. Navy through subject matter exchanges and interaction. This was accomplished through presentations, personal interaction, and hands-on, joint exercises. They boarded the ship in San Diego on June 10, and while the rest of the partner navy service members departed in Peru, those from Colombia remained on board. Lt. Cmdr. Luis Pulgarin is one of the Colombian officers still with the ship.
"The most important thing for me to take back to my
country is how you do business on the ship, for example how you handle emergencies on board, and how you conduct business on the bridge," said Pulgarin. "When I compare the way [the U.S. Navy] does things to the way my country's navy does things, there may be some things I can take back to help improve how we operate. I can also offer suggestions that may help the way [U.S. Naval] officers conduct their business as well."
Pulgarin's time aboard USS New Orleans has not only provided him with professional opportunities, but also new friends.
"I feel very happy to be coming close to my home after being at sea for a while," said Pulgarin. "I'm looking forward to seeing my family and friends and telling them about my experiences aboard an American ship. Not just anyone can sail aboard a U.S. ship. I have many new friends from the U.S., Uruguay, and Argentina, and I am looking forward to letting everyone at home know about my new experiences on the job."
USS New Orleans, along with PHIBRON 5 and other embarked units have already visited Manzanillo, Mexico; Lima, Peru; and are also scheduled to visit Balboa, Panama during the three-month deployment.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.>