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Training Voyage by Chilean Navy Training Vessel Esmeralda Bolsters Cooperation with Partner Nations

Training Voyage by Chilean Navy Training Vessel Esmeralda Bolsters Cooperation with Partner Nations

By Dialogo
July 07, 2015

The Chilean Navy Training Vessel Esmeralda, also known as the Dama Blanca
or White Lady, has launched on a training tour that will visit 11 ports in nine countries.

President Michelle Bachelet bid farewell to the training vessel on May 29, accompanied by Minister of Defense José Antonio Gómez, Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy, Admiral Enrique Larrañaga, and other Naval and civilian authorities. It departed on May 31 from the Molo Abrigo pier in Valparaíso, carrying both Ensigns who had recently graduated from the Naval School and Sailors who had successfully completed their training at the Seamen School. Both are training to become future Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).

“You have the privilege and the honor to sail on an old-fashioned barquentine, which will allow you to forge your professional abilities and to live out the camaraderie and discipline of our Navy every day on board,” Bachelet told the students.

Training mission promotes cooperation

The Chilean Navy invites representatives from other branches of the Armed Forces, Carabineros and Investigation Police (PDI), as well as navies from other countries, to participate in these instructional tours. Captain Carlos Fiedler Pinto, Commander of the Esmeralda, told Diálogo,
that such tours bolster cooperation and friendship between the Armed Forces of partner nations through “participation with units and personnel in naval exercises inside and outside our territory; the involvement of forces and media in peace operations and UN operations; permanent representatives to international maritime organizations and Navy attachés; operational and educational exchanges for Officers and Enlisted personnel; and through visits by our Naval authorities to different navies and armed forces around the world.”

For six months, the crew of 313 – including 30 women and 15 Ensigns – will participate in the training voyage. They are training with guests from other institutions: Two representatives from the Army, one from the Air Force, one from the Carabineros, one from the PDI, and 10 from foreign navies from countries the ship will visit.

The voyage and other such training missions provide an opportunity to “foster camaraderie and leadership with justice and loyalty,” said retired Captain Javier Erazo Wiegand, who served twice on the crew of the Training Vessel Esmeralda. The first time was in 1984, and the second in 1996, as the ship’s Navigation Officer and assistant to the Commander at the time.

“This tour is an important milestone in the history of our training vessel. We can claim with pride that 60 generations have learned about the sea and its environment on board this ship, which has left a distinguishing mark on them, as can only be imparted by a sailing training vessel like the one in our Navy.”

Wide array of training activities

During the mission, the students are receiving lessons in theory and practice that help them perfect their maritime skills in realistic conditions at sea. The training, supervised by the Chilean Navy’s Directorate of Education, provides the students with the opportunity to work with sails, learn how to conduct navigation on the bridge or operate engineering systems in the machine room, navigate by the stars, compose essays on professional topics related to the Navy, and stand guard duty at different control points and stations on the ship. It includes several conferences focusing on fighting new threats from transnational criminal organizations and other illegal groups.

“We try to give the Ensigns every sort of skill and knowledge so they can acquire leadership and command skills during their careers and become true leaders,” Capt. Fiedler said. “The seamen are introduced to the most technical trades and assignments since they will operate and maintain the equipment and weapons system in the performance of their profession.”

A six-month voyage

The Esmerelda's first stop was June 7, in Arica, Chile, to participate in the 135th anniversary of the “Assault and Capture of Cape Arica.” It arrived at the bay accompanied by missile crafts Chipana and Angamo; over the weekend, the ship opened its doors to receive hundreds of Arican visitors, who got to know a little more about the principle work conducted by the students who began their instructional tour.

Moving forward, the training vessel's itinerary includes visits to Willemstadt, Curaçao, on July 1; Rouen, France, on August 4; Bremerhaven, Germany, on August 12; Amsterdam, Netherlands, on August 19; London, United Kingdom, on August 26; Lisbon, Portugal, on September 8; Cadiz, Spain, on September 15; Recife, Brazil, on October 13; Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 4; and the Chilean port of Punta Arenas on November 19. It will return to Valparaíso on December 6 after having toured over 40,000 kilometers, spending 138 days at sea and 52 in port, “equivalent to a trip around the world,” said Capt. Fiedler.

During its voyage, the ship will also participate in two of the most significant regattas in the world: Sail Bremerhaven on the coast of the North Sea, Germany, and Sail Amsterdam, which involves thousands of sailing vessels, and is held every five years.