Chilean Navy submarine docks in California for CHILEMAR VI drill

The Chilean Navy diesel-electric submarine SS Thomson (SS 20) arrived at Naval Base Point Loma on Sept. 6 to participate in the Chile-U.S. bi-lateral exercise CHILEMAR VI.

CHILEMAR is designed to demonstrate interoperability between U.S. submarine rescue systems and Chilean submarines, including a simulated submarine rescue operation, and to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the two nations.

During this iteration of CHILEMAR, Undersea Rescue Command (URC), assigned to CSS-11, plans to conduct a full scale submarine rescue exercise with Thomson. URC intends to utilize divers donning atmospheric diving suits (ADS) along with a pressurized rescue module (PRM). The PRM is a submarine rescue chamber that submerges to the submarine on the ocean floor and seals over its hatch to conduct a personnel transfer.

CHILEMAR supports the Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI). DESI enhances the Navy’s capability to operate with diesel-electric submarines by partnering with South American navies equipped with these vessels. This provides a degree of authenticity and realism to exercises, providing the Navy with opportunities to build experience both tracking and operating with them. The program strengthens partnerships and encourages cooperation between partner nations, furthering the capabilities of U.S. maritime strategy.

Cmdr. John Croghan, senior deputy, Commander, Submarine Squadron 11 (CSS-11), greeted Chilean Navy Cmdr. Oscar Manzano, the commanding officer of Thomson, on the pier upon the ship’s arrival.

“I am very pleased and excited to work with the U.S. Navy,” said Manzano.

I’m pleased we have been able to add submarine rescue as an additional capability on top of those we already get through the DESI initiative,” said Croghan.

URC has the only U.S. based deep ocean submarine rescue capability and is trained to respond to submarine emergencies around the world.