Latin American Navies Get Together for Exponaval 2016
By Carolina Contreras/Diálogo December 23, 2016The X International Naval and Maritime Exhibition for Latin America (Exponaval 2016), and the 5th Exhibition for the Latin American Maritime-Port Industry (TransPort 2016), together attracted 9,000 visitors and resulted in regional naval and maritime projects worth an estimated $800 million. The events were held November 29th-December 2nd at the Concón Naval Air Base in Valparaíso, Chile. Exponaval 2016 is “a fundamental event for promoting and projecting regional naval and maritime interests,” said Admiral Enrique Larrañaga, commander-in-chief of the Chilean Navy. The four-day event also attracted a significant number of regional authorities. Thirty-one official naval delegations from partner nations attended the conference, including contingents headed by the commanders-in-chief of navies from Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Honduras. “This is my first time at Exponaval, and I am surprised by the high level of professionalism and technicality,” said Admiral Marcelo Hipólito Srur, chief of the General Staff of the Argentine Navy. “Everything we have seen is very interesting, and we are going to keep it in the forefront of our minds.” The foreign delegations also held official meetings with authorities from the Chilean Navy and visited the Talcahuano Naval Base and First Naval Zone. Members of the U.S. delegation, headed by Vice Admiral Nora Tyson, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Third Fleet, and Rear Admiral Sean Buck, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. Fourth Fleet , visited the Naval Yards and Docks (ASMAR, per its Spanish acronym), and toured the facilities in Talcahuano, learning about the work they do in detail. More than 140 exhibitors, 70 percent of them from foreign nations, breathed life into the largest regional maritime and naval event that brings knowledge, technological development, and other related areas to naval authorities, and responds to the sector’s current and future challenges. The X International Congress on “Sustainability Challenges for the Naval and Maritime Industries,” took place alongside Exponaval 2016, with domestic and foreign experts addressing three topics: the impact of the new mega container ships on the port systems, projects in Latin American terminals, and an analysis of the challenges and initiatives for naval stability. Other activities focused on the technical tables, where professionals and members of the delegations developed technological, logistical, technical, administrative, maritime, and port topics. For the Chilean Navy, “all the activities took on a special importance since they pointed young Navy members in our direction and allowed us to transmit knowledge to them. For them to learn what the latest innovations are and where they are going,” said Vice Admiral Francisco García Huidobro, the president of Exponaval. Exercises and demonstrations During Exponaval 2016, the Chilean Navy demonstrated its response capacities in a terrorist or environmental threat scenario. The deployment took place on December 1st in Valparaíso Bay and included more than 500 naval troops and 10 naval units. The training consisted of the Navy's board-and-search group capturing a merchant vessel carrying radioactive waste that had fallen into the hands of a terrorist group. To control the radioactive threat and contain a possible oil spill (represented by a Navy oiler), the group was supported by the “Piloto Pardo” OPV, a P-3 Orion maritime exploration aircraft, as well as helicopters and go-fast and rubber boats. Once the vessel was captured, the operation simulated other emergency situations, such as a mock explosion inside the oiler, rescue operations for people who fell into the water, and faced with an imminent oil spill, sounding the alarm to combat the contamination. “Training on threats like terrorism, piracy, and armed robbery at sea is of the utmost importance, since over 90 percent of global commerce is transported by sea,” said Rear Admiral Mario Montejo, director of Security and Maritime Operations for the Chilean Navy. “It is vital to be able to count on these elite Navy teams to counter these so-called emerging threats.” Another attraction at the exhibition was the presence of five foreign navy vessels that were available for touring in Valparaíso Bay: Mexico’s “Centennial of the Revolution” OPV, Argentina’s “Robinson” corvette, Brazil’s “Constitução” frigate, and two British vessels – the “Portland” frigate and the “Gold Rover” tanker. “It is an honor to participate for the first time in Chile in such an important conference,” said Captain José Américo Alexandre, commander of the Brazilian Navy’s Second Escort Squadron. “Exponaval is an opportune time to strengthen ties among our navies and our countries.” New icebreaker During Exponaval 2016’s inauguration ceremony, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet confirmed that the Navy will have a new next-generation Antarctic icebreaker vessel. “We have advanced to the next stage in the long-awaited project of replacing the ‘Admiral Viel’ icebreaker” she said. This vessel will allow us “to support the advancement of science, hydrography, and geography in the Antarctic, as well as to support and provide domestic and international advances on the white continent,” she added. The vessel will be built at ASMAR and will carry 120 crew members and passengers. It will include a flight deck and a hangar for two transport helicopters and will be able to operate autonomously for 60 days at a range of 14,000 nautical miles. It also will have the capacity to assemble 10 metric tons of scientific equipment with a 10-meter mechanical arm, and be able to break through a one-meter layer of ice at a speed of 3 knots.