The Chilean diesel-electric submarine CS Thomson (SS 20) arrived at U.S. Naval Base Point Loma May 1 while participating in the U.S. Navy’s Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI).
Partnering with South American navies to employ diesel-electric submarines in support of fleet readiness events off the East and West Coasts, the DESI program was established in 2001 by U.S. Fleet Forces Command. DESI is executed by Commander Submarine Force Atlantic and serves as a unique conduit to enhance the fleet’s capability to counter the growing diesel-electric submarine threat.
U.S. and South America units work together to engage in various Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training scenarios, which add an additional degree of difficulty and realism, as diesel-electric submarines have proven to be elusive and difficult to track.
“The U.S. does not have any diesel subs of its own to train with and there are 400-plus diesel submarines around the world that we may encounter,” said 3rd Fleet Director of Exercises Cmdr. John Doney. “South America has the closest, highest-density of diesel submarines to North America – almost every country in South America has a diesel submarine.”
Chile, the newest program participant, signed a bilateral concept of operations (CONOPS) letter with Commander Submarine Force Atlantic April 27, 2007, having thus far deployed six times for a total of 884 days.
“The program continues to be very robust,” said DESI Program Director Juan A. Fernandez. “We have partners participating from Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil.”
Chile has deployed the CS Thomson in support of Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet exercises and events during the period May-July 2014.
“For the Chilean navy, [DESI] is a very important opportunity in order to increase international cooperation and the interoperability between our navies,” said CS Thomson Commanding Officer Cmdr. Pablo Correa, having commanded Thomson since 2012. “For us, it’s been a long 29-day journey, during which we have improved our ability to share information between our nations.”
While in port, the Chileans will be attending various DESI seminars to enhance tactical training, during which Correa, who has more than 17,000 nautical miles of submergence experience, will offer his perspectives on the various technical aspects of diesel submarines.
In 2010, the U.S. Navy’s Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) successfully mated their Submarine Rescue Chamber (SRC) with Thomson.
“It’s those relationships you build now that will pay dividends in the future, especially when you may need to work together on a common objective,” said Doney.
U.S. 3rd Fleet provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy, and joint, interagency and international relationships strengthen U.S. 3rd Fleet’s ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.
Press Release, May 5, 2014; Image: Wikimedia