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Sailors Bond, Practice Seamanship at Multinational Exercise

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2005 – American, Uruguayan, Brazilian, Argentinean and Spanish sailors are swapping salty tales while practicing seamanship and battle skills during an annual multinational naval exercise now being conducted off the coast of Brazil.

"Sailors are the same the world over," said U.S. Navy Capt. David W. Costa, the commander of Destroyer Squadron Six, which is participating in the exercise. The squadron has its headquarters in Pascagoula, Miss.

"Everybody I meet, to a man, wants to talk about their experiences," Costa said of the South American sailors he has met.

"They all want to go to sea and do well," said Costa, who takes the traditional title of commodore while in command of a flotilla of ships at sea.

Costa was on the deck of the USS Ross, a destroyer that was plowing the waves off the coast of Brazil. The captain was interviewed by Pentagon and other reporters today via ship-to-shore telephone link.

Costa said the Atlantic Ocean portion of this year's UNITAS 47-06 exercise is being hosted by Brazil. It began Oct. 16 and is slated to conclude Nov. 1. A companion exercise that was conducted off the west coast of South America was held this summer, he said.

The battle-stations portion of the Brazilian-hosted exercise is going on now, Costa said. The five navies are conducting a mock U.N.-sponsored action, he said, to prevent the destabilization of a fictitious country.

The crewmembers aboard the 10 ships involved in the battle exercise are practicing their maritime boarding, sea gunnery, signaling and other combat skills, Costa said.

Training objectives include:

  • Providing the opportunity for participants to conduct combined navel operations in a multinational task force;
  • Improving the combat capabilities of participating naval, air and marine forces;
  • Enhancing readiness for combined coalition operations; and
  • Promoting regional stability through the interaction and exchange of ideas and actions.

The participating navies communicate well, Costa said. Besides using high-tech radio systems, he said, the multinational sailors also employ age-old communications methods such as semaphore flag signals and light flashing.

American sailors who are used to working with sophisticated computer equipment are learning some valuable contingency skills from their Spanish and South American brethren, Costa said. For example, he said, those sailors have devised clever means to make do if their electronic systems fail.

"We like our electronics to work when they're supposed to," Costa said. "They may have the same problem without the electronics and show us how to do it by the 'stubby pencil' method."

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Related Sites:
U.S. Navy Destroyer Squadron Six


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