USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60), a Military Sealift Command oceanographic survey ship, moored in Cartagena, to conduct subject matter expert exchanges with the Oceanographic and Hydrographic Center of the Colombian navy in support of Southern Partnership Station-Oceanographic 2015.
SPS-O 15 enhances professional relationships and information sharing in support of maritime safety, improving maritime commerce and general safety of navigation within U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility.
Pathfinder is a multipurpose oceanographic vessel attached to the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC), manned with a team of hydrographers and oceanographers to conduct training, simulation, and subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) with the goal of exchanging ideas, knowledge and operational experience in the areas of oceanography, hydrography and meteorology in support of naval operations.
SMEEs were conducted by representatives from CIOH and Capt. Marc Eckardt, deputy hydrographer of the Navy, Cmdr. Dave Kuehn, commanding officer, Fleet Survey Team.
Eric Villalobos, the Caribbean and Latin American regional coordinator for NMOC, said: “safety of navigation provides the single most important aspect of naval operations. As a hydrographer, my opinion is biased, but the truth is, without safe navigation, we wouldn’t be able to conduct our missions in a safe and effective manner.”
The topics of discussion developed during the week included: expeditionary multibeam sonar kit (EMK) for riverine surveys, ellipsoidal reference surveys (ERS), hydrographic data analysis and quality control, ocean modeling/forecasting, and geospatial oceanographic databases.
The visit was complemented with a command brief and tour of CIOH headquarters as well as a tour of ARC Providencia, one of four Colombian navy hydrographic ships.
For NMOC and CIOH, SMEE opportunities were vitally important to further each countries efforts to counter illicit drug trafficking, remedy coastal zone management and protect the marine environment.
“Subject matter expert exchanges give us and our partner nations an opportunity to share concepts and knowledge which ultimately strengthen our commitments to shared values and interests,” saidRear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet.
SPS-O 15 provides an opportunity to strengthen partnerships with allies, friends and like-minded nations to enhance interoperability and improve the readiness of participating forces for a wide range of potential operations.