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Three tasks for the Chilean Navy in the southern seas

Friday, December 21st 2007 - 20:00 UTC
Full article
Cap. Felipe Ojeda Simons (PA) Cap. Felipe Ojeda Simons (PA)

The incoming naval commander of the Chilean Naval Zone III in Punta Areas identified three main tasks for the Chilean Navy in the area next year. They include reopening an Antarctic base, relocating all the Navy's land operations into a single building and have Chile's icebreaker Admiral Oscar Veil definitively stationed in Punta Arenas.

"Reopening the Prat base is our main challenge for which all our resources will be involved, hopefully becoming operational by the end of March", said Captain Felipe Ojeda Simons who this month will be named a Rear Admiral. "An officer and nine men are already en route to begin working so the Prat base can operate year round", added the naval officer. The second task is the so called Prussia Project which involves concentrating and rationalizing all naval land operations from the Tres Puentes establishment which formerly belonged to Chile's oil corporation Enap. "We must adapt the facilities to our demands, we must optimize resources and money value and ensure all our technology and communications webs, which is not an easy task" added commander Ojeda Simons. Further in the future and depending "on funds and our logistic needs we could be defining the construction of a jetty, but first we must have the house in order". Finally Captain Ojeda Simons said that as of next January the old reinforced hull tug Leucotón will be decommissioned and the Chilean Navy has decided that the icebreaker Almirante Oscar Viel should be operational from Punta Arenas. "On the one hand we're loosing a vessel but on the other we are receiving another with greater capabilities". For Captain Ojeda Simons is his fourth tour in Punta Arenas where he started back in 1978 as an officer in the Chilean Navy missile patrol vessels. He's a missiles expert and a helicopter pilot. During his presentation as the new commander of Chile's most austral naval region he was also asked about the recent sinking of the cruise vessel Explorer struck by ice. "It was a relatively complex accident since it happened at night but the Chilean Navy was up to the circumstances. We immediately took control and coordination of rescue operations through our search and rescue operation center in Punta Arenas, which actively monitored the area supported by our main operational centre in Valparaíso", said Captain Ojeda Simons. "I happened to be at Valparaíso: the icebreaker Viel was dispatched immediately to the area, another cruise vessel near by was rerouted on our instructions to help rescue passengers and we begun controlling possible or potential environmental damage". The Chilean naval officer said the mechanical dispersion of the fuel leak was jointly done by the Chilean icebreaker Viel and the Argentine Navy Suboficial Castillo. "Currently all contaminating agents have virtually disappeared and we are monitoring the area just in case anything else crops up". Finally Captain Ojeda Simons said one of the routine tasks of the Navy in the area is ensuring all vessels leaving from Chile for the Antarctic comply with all regulations. "However we have limited authority on this issue over foreign vessels sailing for Antarctica from other ports and other countries".

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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