In late 2017, a lieutenant and two ensigns from the Honduran Naval Force completed their postgraduate studies in naval engineering in Colombia.
Members of the Honduran Naval Force (FNH, in Spanish) reaffirmed their knowledge and skills in shipbuilding and use of high-tech tools for ship design. Three Honduran officers earned their Master of Naval Engineering degree from the Admiral Padilla Naval Academy of the Colombian Navy, in Cartagena.
“In the first quarter of 2018, another group of five FNH officers will travel to Colombia to study for the same master’s degree,” Lieutenant Ivonne Sibrian Mejía, head of FNH’s Department of Public Relations, told Diálogo. “The plan is to train 15 Honduran officers in this postgraduate course.”
The academic program is part of the contract to build FNH’s logistic support and cabotage vessel BAL-C Gracias a Dios, which the Honduran Secretariat of Defense and the Colombian Science and Technology Corporation of Naval, Maritime, and Riverine Industry Development (COTECMAR, in Spanish) signed in November 2016. The three Honduran officials, together with three members of the Colombian Navy and three members of COTECMAR, received intensive training as part of an academic program divided among 15 subjects, five seminars, and a thesis.
“The Master of Naval Engineering degree helped us develop scientific and academic competencies to solve problems of the naval, maritime, and riverine industry which will be useful for our country to make advances like those the Colombian Navy achieved,” FNH Lieutenant Jonhy Sibrian Mendoza, one of the officers who graduated from the course, told Diálogo. “I would like to thank the Colombian and Honduran governments for this invaluable opportunity to help our country.”
The staff of various naval institutions gained advanced knowledge in the analysis of ship dynamics, the analysis of naval structures, marine power systems, naval engineering systems integration, concurrent marine design, and shipyard management. Instructors from Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and India taught the courses.
According to information from the Admiral Padilla Naval Academy, officers who earn the title of naval engineer must be professionals trained within the scientific field with critical and ethical sensibilities. They must be able to do ship modeling with their knowledge of ship dynamics and analysis of maneuverability and behavior at sea. They will also be capable of evaluating alternative solutions to determine and optimize the ship’s propulsion systems.
The military students were part of the supervisory group during the construction of the BAL-C Gracias a Dios, a modern ship added to the maritime shield in November 2017 to defend Honduras from the threats of transnational criminal organizations. The ship has the capacity to sail in waters less than 1.5 meters deep, which facilitates loading and unloading without the need for a dock. It also has a range of 40 days on high seas with a crew of 15 people.
“We participated throughout the entire construction process for the BAL-C Gracias a Dios. We took classes and then directly applied them to a shipbuilding project,” Lt. Sibrian Mendoza said. “We also took part in sea trials and construction effort for the vessel.”
“As they say, these officers have already built their first ship. They’re trained,” Lt. Sibrian Mejía said. “They’ll be part of the Naval Repair Center at the Honduran Naval Force Base in the city of Puerto Cortés.”
“This plan goes even further. The Honduran government aims to create a shipyard to support the maintenance and repair of vessels more than 200 feet long with the highest standards of quality and response capacity, and with quick turnaround times,” Lt. Sibrian Mejía said. “The navies of neighboring countries will be able to rely on competitive prices for their ship repairs.”
In addition to supporting the development of the Honduran maritime industry to meet the needs of FNH and the maritime and riverine shipbuilding industry, the shipyard will ensure a level of commercial, industrial, and financial operations that should self-generate resources and guarantee long-term growth. Honduras will receive consulting from COTECMAR to implement the project based on its extensive experience.
“The Master of Naval Engineering degree is part of our national strategy over the next five or seven years to carry out the construction of this first shipyard, which will benefit the nation by meeting the needs of the marketplace beyond what smaller-scale operations are able to achieve,” Lt. Sibrian Mejía said. “FNH availed itself of its good relations with Colombia to train naval engineers who will become part of this project.”
Strengthening the maritime shield
FHN’s level of professionalism is a determining factor to fulfill this mission. “We Honduran officers have the capabilities to carry out any task,” Lt. Sibrian Mendoza said. “I derive great satisfaction from having successfully completed this mission.”
All the training received will strengthen the maritime shield to fight narcotrafficking and organized crime. “Our naval fleet will not have to wait months for ship repairs to go out on patrol in their area of operations. So, they will be able to have a constant presence at sea,” Lt. Sibrian Mejía added. “This operational strengthening is valuable because we are a transit country for narcotrafficking.”