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    PANAMAX 2009 Tests Peruvian Frigate's Capabilities


    Story by Alan Gragg 

    U.S. Southern Command

    PACIFIC OCEAN — A Peruvian navy vessel is testing the full spectrum of its abilities this month during the multinational exercise Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2009.

    The Peruvian frigate BAP Quiñones (FM 58) is part of the Combined Task Force Pacific, which consists of vessels from nine partner nations training to defend the Pacific Ocean end of the Panama Canal.

    Quiñones' commanding officer, Peruvian Navy Capt. Alberto Alcala, said FA PANAMAX 2009 is testing Quiñones' resolve and ability to perform special missions, while maintaining normal underway operations.

    "We want to increase our interoperability with other nations' navies, since the focus of this operation is to protect the Panama Canal," Alcala said. "Our presence here is also to collaborate with the fight against narco-trafficking."

    CTF Pacific, commanded by Peruvian Rear Adm. Edmundo Deville Del Campo, consists of vessels from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru. Another task force, commanded by Colombian Rear Adm. Roberto Garcia Marquez, is operating in the Caribbean Sea with U.S., Panamanian, Dutch and Uruguayan vessels.

    FA PANAMAX 2009 is one of the largest multinational training exercises in the world, and is taking place in the waters off the coasts of Panama from Sept. 11-22 with the participation of civil and military forces. The exercise was first held in 2003 with three partner nations.

    More than 20 vessels and a dozen aircraft are involved in the exercise. Participants are focusing on a variety of responses to any request from the government of Panama to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal, ensure its neutrality, and respect national sovereignty. Simulated ground forces are also participating at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

    Peruvian Navy Ensign Alejandra Vasquez, weapons division officer aboard Quiñones, said the exercise has trained her to think and act rapidly.

    "I think it's different, because there is no schedule, just quick reaction," she said. "It is also a great opportunity, because I can practice my language. For example, I can practice how quickly I can do an inquiry."

    I help with the communications," Vasquez added, "and that's why I have to react quickly. I may have to interrogate a suspect vessel, and I should know how to react regardless of whether it is a compliant or non-compliant vessel."

    Partnership is key to the exercise's goal of improving regional security.

    Peruvian Navy Chief Petty Officer Juan Chavez, a radar specialist in Quiñones' 1st division operations department, said he'll pass along the lessons he has learned about operating with other countries.

    "The most important thing to me is the opportunity to work with different navies," Chavez said. "All of these experiences that I have, have been most important for my career, and enriched my know-how. I intend to pass that on to my junior sailors."

    Alcala, who worked as a liaison officer on the staff of U.S. 3rd Fleet in San Diego before commanding Quiñones, said his multinational experience has benefited his career.

    "Through the years, I have been gaining some experience on how the U.S. Navy works," said Alcala. "I think it's a good opportunity for my ship and my crew to gain experience in multinational force operations."

    The learning goes in both directions. Quiñones is hosting a U.S. Navy Reserve Merchant Marine officer, Ensign Eric Icke, for the at-sea portion of the exercise. Icke, who is serving as the ship's target vessel control operator, said he has learned a lot from the Peruvians.

    "I think it's a great opportunity, just getting to learn how these guys operate, their traditions, how they work every day, and to see how they work with other forces," he said.



    Date Taken: 09.19.2009
    Date Posted: 09.19.2009 14:59
    Story ID: 39014

    Web Views: 389
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