Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 joined forces with the Peruvian Navy for a six-day anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training exercise off the coast of Lima, Peru, ending June 18.
Silent Forces Exercise (SIFOREX) 2008 consisted of four days of intense, structured ASW practice, followed by an 18-hour “scenario phase.” During this unscripted scenario phase units simulated a real-world ASW situation.
The guided-missile destroyers USS Farragut (DDG-99) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), and the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG-59) joined by the Peruvian BAP Villavisencio (FM-52) and BAP Montero (FM 53) had to find the small, quiet Peruvian diesel submarines, BAP Chipana (SS-34) and BAP Antofagasta (SS-32).
Lt. Nathan Scherry, one of Farragut’s tactical action officers, explained that the exercise proved challenging but valuable.
“Practicing ASW in our home waters, we are almost always against a synthetic target, or a nuclear submarine, at best. But nuclear subs aren’t what we need to practice against,” said Scherry. “It’s very rare that we get to practice against an actual diesel submarine, with actual people in it, thinking tactically from the other side of the picture.
“Sounds cliché, but, doing six days of this kind of work with multiple diesel subs was really an opportunity to excel.”
SIFOREX provided an opportunity for partner navies to exchange officers and enlisted personnel for the week, giving those personnel unique perspectives into the daily lives, routines, and procedures of their counterparts. Lt.j.g. Rolando Vidal, part of the Peruvian Submarine Force, embarked Farragut for the exercise.
“It’s quite an interesting experience to be a ship-rider because I’m usually on the other side of the war — I’m a submariner. It’s a great experience to be up here, on the surface with the ships, seeing the way that you conduct the search for our submarines,” said Vidal.
“We’re always doing the search, on patrol; but other ships and other navies also have their work to do. It’s not often that we get to see the other side.”
SIFOREX began at an intermediate level and concluded with events requiring advanced, integrated coordination between the navies.
Capt. Rudy Laco, DESRON 40 commodore, noted that this exercise was a capstone event for the ASW teams on all the participating ships.
“These ships have been practicing ASW for the entire Partnership of the Americas engagement this year. This exercise culminates those efforts. There won’t be an exercise of this magnitude held again for some time.
“Farragut, Forrest Sherman, and Kauffman, as well as our Peruvian counterparts, did a great job of taking full advantage of the training opportunities this exercise presented,” said Laco. “And with six days of around the clock interaction, there was plenty of training to go around,”
Capt. Jose Del Alamo, commander of Peru’s Submarine Force, said he was pleased to see both teams grow during the exercise.
“I think we saw this week how much each of us have to learn from one another,” he said. “Both of our navies have many junior officers, for whom this was the first year of training. For them, this was a great learning experience. So, too, for those senior officers among us—every one of us have something to learn from every day at sea.”
For Vidal the experience was heightened by a sense of solidarity with fellow Sailors and officers throughout the two navies.
“Community is one of the most important things, not just in our navies, but in all of the navies of the world,” said Vidal. “Any time we get to strengthen and grow our community, to make our community a more global one—that’s a good thing.”