By U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/ U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs
Mayport, Fl. (NNS) -- Naval forces from Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the United States kicked off UNITAS 2015, an annual multinational exercise, in Valparaiso, Chile, Oct. 13.
Personnel from Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, New Zealand, and Panama are also participating in the exercise.
This year's exercise is hosted by the Chilean navy and will include 14 warships which will conduct operations in the Southern Pacific through October 24th. Among these warships are USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73), USS Chafee (DDG90), USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) from the United States and from Chile the ACH Williams, ACH Riveros and the ACH Condell. Also participating in the exercise is Carrier Strike Group NINE (CSG 9).
"The purpose of the annual UNITAS exercise is to develop and sustain relationships that improve the capacity of both U.S. forces and partner nation maritime forces," said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U.S. 4th Fleet. "Carrier Strike Group NINE and USS GEORGE WASHINGTON's participation in this year's exercise makes it one of the largest UNITAS exercises in recent memory."
UNITAS is intended to train participating forces in a variety of maritime scenarios to test command and control of forces at sea, while operating as a multinational force to provide the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability.
The overall objectives of the intense training focus on developing coalition building, multilateral security cooperation, promoting tactical interoperability and promoting friendship, professionalism and mutual understanding among the participating partner nations.
Chilean Cmdr. Jose Fuentes, Liaison Officer to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/ U.S. 4th Fleet, said "for the Chilean Navy, it is a rewarding challenge to host such a unique blue water exercise, this is unlike any other in the region's recent history. It will definitely enhance the interoperability and training skills of participating navies, improve the Partner Nations' capabilities in responding to threats, and provide maritime security across the region."
UNITAS began in 1960. It is the U.S. Navy's longest running annual multinational maritime exercise. UNITAS, which means "unity" in Latin, is a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the region and to the value of the strong relationships forged between our partner militaries.
The next phase of UNITAS 2015 will be hosted by Brazil in November.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) employs maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to enhance interoperability, build enduring partnerships that foster regional security, and maintain access in the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility (AOR).
USS 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.