USS Monterey (CG 61) and the Colombian navy joined forces for bilateral training exercises and cultural exchange May 11-12 during “Partnership of the Americas.”
Monterey hosted three Colombian naval officers, and four Monterey Sailors and one Coast Guardsman cross-decked to experience life in another country’s navy.
Monterey is currently operating in the Caribbean Sea as part of “Partnership of the Americas,” an opportunity for the U.S. Navy to strengthen ties through operations and exercises with Caribbean and Latin American partner nations.
During the two-day bilateral training exercise, Monterey and the Colombian frigate ARC Antioquia (FN 53) conducted a mock boarding using both ships. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment
406, embarked on Monterey, and the ship’s Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team practiced boarding the vessel using a training scenario designed to emulate discovery of explosives during the boarding process. After the exercise’s completion, Antioquia Sailors used their air assets and Monterey’s flight deck to conduct similar training aboard Monterey.
Sonar Technician (Surface) Seaman Brian Ortiz, part of Monterey’s VBSS team who participated in the mock boarding, gave the experience a thumbs-up.
“It was great to interact with another country’s navy and experience a different culture,” he said. “Not only that, but it was good training. I feel like I’m better prepared for a real-world scenario.”
Luis Sonclemente, weapons officer aboard the Colombian frigate ARC Almirante Padilla (FN 51), said his experience aboard Monterey made a strong and positive impression.
“One of biggest impressions I had was the awesome naval power and capabilities of the Monterey and the U.S. Navy as a whole," he said. "You really don’t get to understand the scope of capabilities until you have been on board.”
He said in addition to the educational benefits, the visit reinforced the presence and value of the two countries’ alliance.
“Visiting Monterey helps us realize that the way we operate is very similar,” Sonclemente said. “We have the support of a great ally and the opportunity to strengthen our relationship.”
Monterey’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Robert Oldani, echoed the sentiments of sharing common goals and partnership.
“We value greatly our partnership with Colombia,” he said. “These exchanges show us so much, most importantly that we all share a common mission. ‘Partnership of the Americas’ has strengthened our relationship with Colombia.”
Monterey has been in the Caribbean Sea for ‘Partnership of the Americas’ since April and is scheduled to return to her homeport in Norfolk, Va., later this month.
By Journalist 2nd Class (SW) Katherine Favell, USS George Washington
Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs