The Argentine Navy (ARA) and the Brazilian Navy (MB) reviewed their capabilities and trained troops in medical evacuation and search and rescue missions to safeguard human life at sea as part of exercise SAREX 2022 in the South Atlantic.
“The exercise had special relevance, since both countries have two of the largest search and rescue [SAR] service areas of responsibility in the world, where we’ve worked together on many occasions in real cases,” Argentine Navy Captain Gabriel Sabadín, commander of the Destroyer Division and head of SAREX for the Argentine sector, told Diálogo on October 23.
The September exercise was carried out on the coast of Rio de Janeiro, and ended at the Mar del Plata Naval Base, Argentina, with the deployment of the MB’s ocean patrol ship Apa, and the ARA’s Piedrabuena.
Sailing some 1, 200 nautical miles (2,200 kilometers), service members conducted medical evacuation, towing, and search and rescue exercises, Gaceta Marinera, the ARA’s official news site, reported.
During daytime hours, service members faced various simulated search and rescue emergencies including a shipwreck and crew members involved in an accident. For greater realism, communications were simulated between the ships in the area and the SAR coordination center, which was located on land.
Medical consultations, for crew members evacuation training, were carried out through radio communication in ocean patrol vessels’ small rescue boats. SAREX also included safe towing exercises in the event that an unpropelled vessel had to be pulled to the nearest port. At night, service members practiced communication with signal lights.
“The results of SAREX were highly satisfactory and we continue to strengthen our relationship and improve our interoperability at sea,” Capt. Sabadín said.
Apa and Piedrabuena crews were on permanent alert for simulated rescue and emergency scenarios to improve procedures in combined operations. Medical teams to sailors who specialize in deck work on ships participated in the SAREX exercise.
Navies interoperability in SAR techniques and tactics benefits mutual trust to promote the safeguarding of human life at sea, especially in the coordination of communications and task procedures. The new lessons learned also lead to improved protocols and closer professional and personal ties between both countries.
“The crews of the ships and of the Maritime and River Search and Rescue Centers are trained in the coordination and conduct of this type of operations, and in a variety of maritime maneuvers that require specific training, developed in a particular geographical setting such as the South Atlantic,” Capt. Sabadín added.
The bilateral relationship between the two nations has grown in recent years as they have worked to strengthen cooperation in the South Atlantic to encourage cooperation, scientific exchange and security in the region.
“It highlights not only the importance of working in a combined manner with navies that share a common challenge at sea [such as safeguarding human life], but also the need to continue with these types of exercises at every favorable opportunity,” Capt. Sabadín said.
In August 2022, the XIII Meeting of the Brazil-Argentina Joint Working Group was held in Brasilia, to advance in new integration mechanisms in the field of Defense. During the working days, several military exchange agreements were addressed.
“Our integration with Brazil in the area of defense is not something new but is already a tradition between both countries,” Argentine Army Colonel José Colombo, head of the Institutional Communication and Press Department of the Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Diálogo. “Exchanges of officers and noncommissioned officers, Brazilian military who attend our training institutes such as war schools and vice versa, combined air, sea, and land exercises and other specific activities, are evidence of this integration.”