Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Oak Hill Begins Deployment With Partner Nation Liaison Officers

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Hendrick L. Dickson, Oak Hill Southern Partnership Station ‘09 Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Oak Hill departed her homeport at the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek Va., June 3, for Southern Partnership Station (SPS) '09, with nearly 20 foreign liaison naval officers (LNOs) embarked with its crew.

The officers are embarked in support of the Navy's effort to engage with partner nations to create and maintain a safe maritime environment for use by all nations.

The LNOs represent maritime forces from the countries of Brazil, Peru and Uruguay and are working side-by-side with Oak Hill crew members seeing firsthand how U.S. Sailors operate and sharing their own ideas and experiences.

"One of the goals for this deployment is to bolster regional maritime safety and security," said Capt. Brad Williamson, Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Oak Hill – SPS '09 mission commander.

"The cooperation and collaboration we build with our partner nations will help serve to strengthen our ties and improve our ability to work together in the future. Having our Sailors and partner nations here in a joint environment where they can train and operate together is beneficial for all."

The goals expressed by Williamson are shared by many of the LNOs as well.

"We get to find out how to work toward common goals and how each other operate in real world situations," said Uruguayan Navy Lt. Gabriel Calimaris. "We learn to communicate with each other better and are building camaraderie through partnership."

The LNOs have been given tours throughout the ship and have participated and observed various ship evolutions, including landing craft unit (LCU) and amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) operations and fire drills.

"We need to know how to work together so if anything happens, we can reduce mistakes. Partnership, cooperation, sharing -- those words require a joint effort from all involved," said Peruvian Navy 1st Lt. Patricio Negron.

Oak Hill–SPS '09 is scheduled to continue throughout July, which gives participants time to build upon the early success and further enhance the partnerships between the nations.