USS Underwood Sailors Work alongside Their Colombian Counterparts

USS Underwood Sailors Work alongside Their Colombian Counterparts

Sailors assigned to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) spent time working alongside their Colombian counterparts as they made repairs on the Colombian cutter Valle del Cauca while moored in Bahia Malaga, Colombia July 3.

The Colombian and U.S. Sailors were able to achieve a number of goals as they combined their experience and expertise to address electrical and mechanical issues aboard the cutter over a period of three days in port in Bahia Malaga.

“We went over to the Colombian ship to work with them as they repaired some of their equipment,” said Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class (SW) Aldo Rodriguez, who volunteered to help out on the Valle del Cauca. “We worked on their capstan, their air conditioning, their carry, hold and transit [sewage system] and a couple of their gauges.”

Sailors from the two navies also worked together restoring lights on the Valle del Cauca’s flight deck.

“We brought their flight deck lighting up to about 80 percent, so now they’ll be able to conduct night operations on their flight deck,” said Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class (SW) John Prokop, who also volunteered to work with the Colombian sailors.

The subject matter expert exchange has been an opportunity for sailors from both navies to learn more about their own job specialties from each other.

“I think working with the Colombian navy has helped strengthen our partnership,” said Prokop. “We traded expertise as we taught each other a lot of things on the electrical side about different systems they have on their ship and I’ve also been able to show them some in-depth things that I know about electrical schematics, tracing out wires and performing troubleshooting and repairs.”

Working side-by-side with their Colombian counterparts proved to be a good way for the U.S. Sailors to get to know members of another country’s navy.

“We talk about our families and the differences between our navies as we work together,” said Rodriguez, who speaks Spanish fluently. “But I think my favorite part has been the food they have shared with us. It is outstanding. Even the rice just seems to have so much more flavor. They have a dish called ‘sancocho’ that is like a soup comprised of beef, chicken, potatoes, corn and rice. It reminds me of home cooking.”

“My favorite part of this has been the experience of going over to a different navy’s ship,” said Prokop.I went over in a RHIB [rigid-hull inflatable boat] one of the days and just going over and seeing a different type of lifestyle and getting to work with other sailors as they make repairs on their ship was a good experience that I’m going to keep with me for the rest of my life.”

Underwood is deployed to Central and South America and the Caribbean in support of Southern Seas 2012.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Naval Today Staff, July 6, 2012; Image: Navy