By By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex Smedegard,
USS George Washington Public Affairs
ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The Aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) transited the Strait of Magellan Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, completing the Pacific Ocean portion of their Southern Seas 2015 deployment.
The Strait of Magellan, named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, is a navigable sea route immediately south of mainland Chile and is a natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Magellan made passage through the strait on Nov.1, 1520 while searching for a quicker route to the Spice Islands by sailing west.
"Today our crew witnessed an historic moment, marking the 495th anniversary of Magellan's passage through the strait during our own memorable transit," said Capt Timothy C. Kuehhas.
During the two-day transit, the Sailors of GW's navigation department played a major role by maintaining the ship's course and monitoring water depth through the 570-kilometer passage.
"We set sea and anchor detail meaning we were less than two nautical miles away from land and had to take what we call visual fixes, or bearings, from three different points off of land in order to make sure the ship was still safe for navigation," said Quartermaster 2nd Class Janet Dahlman.
The Strait of Magellan transit also served as a valuable training tool for qualifying junior quartermasters in different aspects of their rate.
"It gave them a very good experience at what it takes to get through a strait as a quartermaster," said Dahlman. There are a lot of hazards in a transit like this so everyone had to work together to successfully complete our mission."
Washington anchored late in the day Nov. 1 just off the coast of Punta Arenas, Chile. Punta Arenas is considered the world's southernmost city, with more than 102,000 residents.
As the ship resumed its transit Nov. 2, hundreds of Washington, Carrier Strike Group NINE, Destroyer Squadron 23 and embarked Carrier Air Wing TWO Sailors roamed the flight deck and hangar bay to snap a few photographs of the snow-capped mountains overlooking parts of the strait.
"This was a milestone in my Southern Seas deployment," said Quartermaster Seaman Rodney Cobia. "I've never seen anything like this in my life and to share it with my shipmates is something I'll always reminisce about."
Washington is deployed as part of Southern Seas 2015 which seeks to enhance interoperability, increase regional stability and build and maintain relationships with countries throughout the region through joint, multinational and interagency exchanges and cooperation.