By Ensign Carol McKenzie, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Public Affairs
MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) arrived in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to begin the Southern Seas 2015 deployment and participate in UNITAS 2015, from late Sept. to mid Dec. 2015.
George Washington, Carrier Strike Group 9 (CSG9), Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW-2), USNS Bighorn (T-AO-198), USNS Guadalupe (T-AO-200), USS Chafee (DDG 90) and USS McFaul (DDG 74) are deployed to the waters surrounding Latin America and the Caribbean to conduct Southern Seas 2015.
Sailors and Marines, as well as Military Sealift Command civilian mariners will join together to conduct the deployment to circumnavigate South America as George Washington transits to Norfolk, Virginia to begin a scheduled refueling.
Southern Seas 2015 is a U.S. Southern Command-directed operation planned by commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet and carried out by George Washington task group.
Southern Seas 2015 is a collaborative deployment in the U.S. Southern Command area of focus where the task group will conduct a variety of exercises and multinational exchanges. These exchanges include distinguished visitor embark engagements with Panama, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay; and bilateral at-sea operations with Japan, Peru, Chile and Brazil.
"This deployment demonstrates our continued commitment and enduring relationships with our partner nations; it is an opportunity to come together and collaboratively exercise our skills in an increasingly challenging maritime environment," said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. "I look forward to the multinational participation and opportunities to learn from each other during this deployment."
As part of Southern Seas 2015, the multinational forces exercise UNITAS 2015 will be conducted in two phases.
UNITAS Pacific, scheduled for mid-October, will be hosted by Chile and include participation from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, and the United States. UNITAS Atlantic, scheduled for mid-November, will be hosted by Brazil and include participation from Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, and the U.S.
UNITAS, which is Latin for "unity," was first started in 1959 and has been held every year since. This year marks the 56th iteration of this long-running exercise. UNITAS 2015 provides unique training opportunities at sea, a challenging and uncertain environment, which incorporates scripted, event-driven scenarios, to provide the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability.
The eighth deployment of its kind, Southern Seas 2015 seeks to enhance interoperability, increase regional stability, and build and maintain regional relationships with countries throughout the region through joint, multinational and interagency exchanges and cooperation.
George Washington will visit Peru, Chile, and Brazil. During these port visits, the ship's crew will have the opportunity to experience the rich culture of their host nation and to serve as goodwill ambassadors. Additionally many of the Sailors and Marines of Southern Seas 2015 will have the chance to volunteer for enhancement projects at local schools, orphanages, and other facilities.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.