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Joint naval exercises in Beagle channel.

Tuesday, August 31st 2004 - 21:00 UTC
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Chilean and Argentine naval units begin this Wednesday the annual Viekaren VI2004 exercise which involves search and rescue operations in Antarctic waters in preparation for the coming Antarctic season.

The exercise, this year under Chilean command will extend during four days in the Beagle channel and adjoining areas of New Picton and Lennox islands in the extreme south of Tierra del Fuego.

"The exercise is in preparation for the Antarctic Patrol of this coming summer, a joint operation between the Austral Naval Area (Ushuaia) of the Argentine Navy and the Third Naval Zone (Punta Arenas) with the purpose of safeguarding human lives and keeping control over pollution and contamination", said Rear Admiral Arturo Ojeda head of the Punta Arenas naval post.

The exercise will simulate rescuing a cargo vessel in distress in Antarctic waters.

The Chilean Navy participates with a high seas tug, two support patrol vessels and the Argentines with a similar high seas tug, a fast patrol vessel and an aircraft.

In related news the Chilean Navy offered its Argentine counterpart 25 positions in the school vessel "Esmeralda" annual world tour with the latest promotion of cadets.

Beginning this year the Argentine school vessel "Libertad" will undergo an 18 months refurbishing process that will force the 2005 promotion to cut the annual eight months world tour to four months in South America, and in the corvettes ARA Parker and ARA Rosales.

On hearing this Chilean naval authorities extended the official invitation.

"This is the clearest signal of mutual trust and the successful confidence building process both our navies are involved in", remarked Argentine Defence minister Jose Pampuro.

Apparently the 65 cadets of 2005 promotion will alternate between the Argentine corvettes and the Chilean Navy Esmeralda school vessel.

Categories: Mercosur.

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