July 21, 2000

Chilean Combat Frigate Tests Combat Readiness In "Operacion America 2000"

By: Daniel L. Muñoz

Photo by PH2 Lena Gonzalez
June 28, 2000 — Cmdr. Federico R. Niemann, commanding officer of PFG CONDELL (FFH-06), a Chilean Frigate participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2000, reviews incoming message traffic on the ship’s bridge.

U.S. Naval Station San Diego, California —21 July, 2000 —By now the Frigate PFG "Almirante Condell," under the command of "Comandante" (Commander) Federico Niemann Figari, is steaming towards its home port in Valparaiso, Chile. It has been a long six month cruise, for the officers and crew. The last time they saw Valparaiso was the 19th of April, 2000. Utilizing the ship's internet computer system, this interview would be picked up and displayed throughout the ship by today (Friday) at 3:00 p.m.

On a nice warm day this past week Alicia Luna and Dan Muñoz, from La Prensa San Diego, asked permission to come on board the Frigata (Frigate) Almirante Condell. Awaiting to welcome us on board was Teniente Primero, Leopoldo Diaz Fadic, Jefe del Departamento de Sistemas de Armas (Officer in Charge of the Gun Control Systems) and the Command Duty Officer for the Day. Fluent in English and Spanish, in no time at all, we slipped into a bilingual mode of speaking and quickly repaired to the Officers Wardroom where the interview would take place over a cup of "Expresso."


L/P - (La Prensa): Teniente Diaz can you divulge some of the details of your cruise?

Lt/D - (Lt. Diaz): We were part of a group of 10 ships that was involved in a six week naval operations in the waters off Hawaii. Operation RIMPAC 2000 involved more than 50 ships from Korea, Canada, Australia, Chile, The United Kingdom and the United States of America. In addition 200 aircraft, and nearly 22,000 military service men from the other countries were involved.

L/P - Tell us a little bit about your ship.

Lt./D - We are a Frigate that has a total displacement of 3190 tons and approximately 113 meters in length and 13 meters in width.

L/P - Putting it in terms we can visualize that's about the size of a football field and about 42 feet wide. Kind of tight quarters, isn't it?

Lt/D - We have 23 officers, 14 Chief Petty Officers, 48 Petty Officers and 166 Seamen in our crew. But we are comfortable.

L/P - That's a lot of sailors to feed and care for.

Lt./D - Our meals are all the same for the Officers and the men. All meals are the same as what we eat in Chile... Empanadas, Cazuela, Sopa, Zopacillo, etc. Everything is fresh. We can only carry a 30 day supply of food as we have no deep freezers on board. Which means all our vegetables and meats are kept in refrigerators. We can't freeze them.

L/P - Do you have a brig for disciplinary purposes?

Lt.D - No, we don't have a brig. Which is really not needed as we don't have any serious disciplinary problems. All our men are very motivated. Before they go to sea they have received nearly three years of schooling. They are highly trained individuals. All officers receive a minimum of 5 years of education prior to being commissioned and going to sea. We live in close quarters and co-mingle in a friendly fashion but with military respect for each other.

Lt. Leopoldo Diaz Fadic

The time had come for a tour of the ship and the press of duty kept Lt. Diaz from escorting us around the ship. He then asked Sargento 1ro, Exiequhél Delgado Uribe to give us a tour of the ship.

L/P - Sargento how long have you been in the Navy?

S/D - Around 10 years.

L/P - Are you married?

S/D - Oh yes, my family, my wife and four children are in Valpariso.

L/P - Tell me about life in the Chilean Navy.

S/D - We have a good life. I am paid more than enough to support my family... And we really don't go on too many long cruises. The officers treat us well. Our quarters are comfortable though not too roomy. (A tour of the spaces showed 30 bunks per compartment with each man having his own locker. Each compartment had its own television and radio). We have our own messdecks and we all have the same menu. Though, we can order little extras like sodas, or maybe a beer or a glass of wine. But at the end of the month we have to pay for them. Most of us are Catholic (90%) or Christian (10%)... But we don't have any Priests or Ministers on board. The Executive Officer usually conducts church services. But, of course he can't do the rituals of a Priest. Usually when we come to a port, we seek out a Catholic Priest to take care of our spiritual needs.

L/P - What type of exercises were you involved in RIMPAC?

S/D - We had exercises in anti-submarine warfare, communications, command and control, and the use of our various weapon systems. On this kind of ship, the Captain cons the ship from CIC (Combat Information Center) during periods of combat. He monitors everything that is going around on the sea surface, air, and under the ocean. (Sargento Del-gado had taken us into CIC. As we toured he explained how operations were conducted). The Captain has his anti-submaine warfare Officer, the Missile Launching Officer, the Air Combat officer at their positions. From there they can launch all our weapon systems at the Captain's order. The Officer of the Deck is on the bridge where he cons the ship in conformance with the commands from the Captain in CIC. (We asked: what is your responsibility in CIC?) I keep all the computers, screens, and all the electronic equipment on line during operations. We can't afford to lose contact even for a moment.

L/P - What weapon systems is the Almirante Condell outfitted with?

S/D - We have twin 4.5 inch dual purpose guns, MK 46 torpedos, 4 Exocet MM-40 SU/SU missile launchers, 1 Couger ASW/ASUW Helicopter, 1 Quad Seacat SU/Ai Missle Launcher, two Triple TLT for Mk. 46 Torpedos. (The equipment he was naming were located on the port and starboard sides, fantail, and on the superstructure. For a small ship it looked like it had a heavy stinger to counter any attacks)

Farewell committee bids the staff of La Prensa “Adios”. (Left to right, in front) Sargents Raul Toro, Arnaldo Sepulveda and Claudo Vasquez. (In back) Cabo Guillermo Guzman and Manuel Aldo. The sailors are pictured with photographer Alicia Luna.

Sargento 1ro Delgado led us on a tour of the Kitchen, Bakery, Mess Halls, Officers and Enlisted Quarters, the Bridge, Woodshop, Welding Shop, the Helicopter Port, and nearly every nook and cranny on the Condell.

(Muchas Gracias Amigos! For all your courtesies, and attention provided to us. Gracias to Sargentos Raul Toro, Arnoldo Sepulveda, y Claudio Vasques. Así como los Cabos Guillermo Gúzman y Manuel Aedo, Y más que todo al Teniente Leopoldo Díaz Fadic por su caballerocidad en las atenciones brindadas hacía nosotros. Ademas a toda la "TRIPULACION" (crew) ¡Buena suerte! Que tengan "following seas" all the way to Valparaiso.)

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