7 September 2016
SAN DIEGO (NNS) – The Chilean Navy diesel-electric submarine SS Thomson (SS 20) arrived at Naval Base Point Loma on Sept. 6 to participate in the 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.
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.
Manzano, a staff and submarine warfare officer, holds a professional degree in weapons engineering with a major in submarines and a Master of Science in naval and maritime sciences. With more than 10 years of seagoing experience, he has navigated more than 15,000 miles submerged aboard Thomson.
"I am very pleased and excited to work with the U.S. Navy," said Manzano. "My crew and I are blessed to have the opportunity to come to San Diego and work with your fine Sailors. We are ready to get started."
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.
"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.
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.
"Submarine rescue operations involve very challenging procedures, and they require consistent training to maintain proficiency," said Croghan. "Our ability to cooperate with our partner nations during such a technical evolution will ensure that, in the unlikely event of an actual submarine emergency, we will be operationally prepared."
URC has the only U.S. based deep ocean submarine rescue capability and is trained to respond to submarine emergencies around the world.