Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Italian Submarine Visits Naval Station Mayport, Marks First U.S. Visit Since WWII

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Regina L. Brown, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Southeast

Crew members assigned to the Italian air-independent propulsion (AIP) equipped submarine ITS Salvatore Todaro (S-526) prepare to pull into port at Naval Station Mayport, which marks the first visit of an Italian submarine to the U.S. since World War II. Todaro's port visit is supporting the upcoming Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group joint task force exercise (JTFEX) and demonstrates the U.S. and Italian Navy's continued commitment to building a strong working relationship. JTFEX is designed to test and evaluate a battle group's reactions to multiple wartime scenarios and is the final certification for a battle group preparing to deploy. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Regina L. Brown

Italian submarine ITS Salvatore Todaro (S 526) pulled into Naval Station Mayport, July 11, the first visit by an Italian submarine to the United States since World War II.

Salvatore Todaro's visit is in support of their participation in an upcoming Joint Task Force Exercise with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. The exercise demonstrates the continued commitment of the U.S. and Italian navies to building stronger relationships.

Salvatore Todaro, with a 27-man crew, is the first Type U212A vessel and entered into service just over two years ago. Italy is gradually replacing the Sauro-class units with new Type U212A vessels which operate a fuel cell air-independent propulsion system.

"We are very happy that we're here to support this training," said Lt. Cmdr. Mauro Panebianco, commanding officer of Salvatore Todaro. "This is a historic visit and we're proud to be a part of it."

This visit also works to reinforce the Navy's new maritime strategy, which raises the importance of working with international partners as the basis for building trust and cooperation between nations.

"The U.S. has provided us with excellent support and a wonderful opportunity to train with them," said Capt. Maurizio Ertreo, an attaché working at the Italian embassy in Washington, D.C. "We wouldn't have been able to solve the few issues we had without all the help from the people here at Mayport, especially our sister ship, USS Klakring (FFG 42)."

These exchanges have been an important part in strengthening the foundation of maritime cooperation.

"Hopefully we can use this unique opportunity as a springboard for future relationships," said Cmdr. Ian Pollitt, Klakring commanding officer. "To be part of something like this, in even just a small logistical support way, means a lot to the crew, they've been talking about it for the past couple weeks."

The Klakring crew planned social activities for the Todaro crew, including a formal reception and a friendly soccer game.

"I figure with our crew size of 190 and their crew size of 27, it should be an even match," said Pollitt.