HMCS Vancouver furthers relations with Chile

Left to right: Vancouver and Chilean Navy vessels Condell and Prat execute a sunburst formation during the Officer of the Watch manoeuvres serial.

Left to right: Vancouver and Chilean Navy vessels Condell and Prat execute a sunburst formation during the Officer of the Watch manoeuvres serial. ~ Photo LS Sergej Krivenko, HMCS Vancouver

SLt Sean Catterall, HMCS Vancouver ~

The final and perhaps most significant stop on the long journey south for HMCS Vancouver was a port visit to Chile.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Chile. Chile is considered a priority country in the Government of Canada’s Engagement in the Americas Strategy, and Vancouver’s visit
was reflective of this initiative.

On Monday Feb. 29, Vancouver conducted an underway replenishment with the Chilean Navy ship/vessel Almirante Montt 20 miles off the coast of Valparaiso. After having exercised exclusively with Almirante Montt for a period of five weeks this past summer, it was a familiar scene.

As Vancouver entered the port of Valparaiso the next day, the Chilean Navy’s band played and Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, RAdm Gilles Couturier was present to welcome Vancouver’s crew to Valparaiso.

Shortly after arriving, key Canadian and Chilean naval staff, including a 15-sailor contingent from Vancouver, attended a wreath laying ceremony downtown in Plaza Sotomayor in honour of the sailors who fell during the Battles of Iquique and Punta Gruesa during the War of the Pacific in 1879.

Following the ceremony, tours of the ship were provided to Embassy staff and Consular Wardens prior to a Canadiana-style reception, co-hosted by RAdm Couturier and Canadian Ambassador to Chile Marcel Lebleu, on Vancouver’s flight deck.

After a four day port visit, Vancouver and crew departed Valparaiso in company with Chilean Navy ships Almirante Condell and Capitán Prat in order to conduct a 48-hour long PASSEX with the Chilean Navy in the waters to the south of Valparaiso.
Once at sea, Vancouver had the privilege of operating with the Chilean submarine, SS Thomson, a P-295 Persuader LRPA, and Condell’s organic helo, an AS 332C Cougar.

The PASSEX started with a helicopter cross-deck exercise and rolled into a combined surface gunnery exercise involving one of Vancouver’s remote controlled Hammerhead targets. Shortly after, Vancouver participated in a series of evolving exercises with the Type 209 diesel submarine as well as other warfare serials. The PASSEX was complete after Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and a PhotoEx.

The Chilean Navy once again proved to be skilled and professional in their execution of combined operations with the Royal Canadian Navy, integrating seamlessly despite language barriers and subtle
differences in tactical procedures.

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