By By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex Smedegard, USS George Washington Public Affairs
ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 completed UNITAS Pacific (PAC) as the ship transitioned into the Atlantic Ocean Nov. 2.
As part of Southern Seas 2015 (SS15), the multinational forces exercise UNITAS 2015 is conducted in two phases, UNITAS PAC and UNITAS Atlantic (LANT).
"Southern Seas 2015 is a continuation of our commitment to the region and is being conducted to enhance regional partnerships and promote hemispheric stability," said Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander, CSG-9.
This year's UNITAS PAC was hosted by Chile and included participants from 11 countries: Australia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa and the U.S.
"The impact [the crew aboard Washington had], cannot be overstated with the interactions with [partner] air force and navies around South America," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus during a visit aboard Washington Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
Exercises such as Blue Sky V, designed to improve relations through cooperative airborne tactical engagements, was an opportunity for partnered military officials to come aboard the ship and work alongside U.S. Sailors.
"In addition to UNITAS PAC our engagements in the Pacific included port visits in Peru and Chile, distinguished visitor flyouts with senior leaders from Panama, Colombia, Peru and Chile, and bilateral at-sea operations such as exercise Blue Sky V with the Chilean Air Force," said Franchetti.
Soon after completing UNITAS PAC, Washington voyaged through the Strait of Magellan, transitioning to the Atlantic to prepare for UNITAS LANT. Washington completed the 570-kilometer passage through the Strait of Magellan exactly 495 years after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
"Our crew enjoyed the breathtaking journey through the Strait of Magellan, and we are ready to commence UNITAS LANT in the next chapter of Southern Seas 15," said Capt. Timothy C. Kuehhas, Washington's commanding officer.
UNITAS LANT is scheduled for Nov. 14-25. Brazil will host the exercise, with participation from Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Senegal and the United States.
"The overall objective of this exercise is to increase interoperability among participating navies," said Franchetti. "UNITAS enables the assembled forces to organize and conduct combined naval operations in a multinational task force and test its responsiveness."
While the overarching goal is to develop and test command and control of forces at sea, training in this exercise will address the spectrum of maritime operations. Specifically, there will be scenarios addressing electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime interdiction operations and joint exercises with the Brazilian Air Force.
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.