Wednesday, May 06, 2009

UNITAS Gold 2009 Draws To A Close

Ships from countries participating in Exercise Unitas Gold take part in a parade of ships just off the coast of Jacksonville. The Jacksonville area hosted maritime forces from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Uruguay for the 50th iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Casullo/Released)

UNITAS Gold, the 50th iteration of the longest running multinational exercise in the world came to a close May 5, following more than two weeks of realistic training scenarios.

Participating nations included U.S. and partner maritime forces and observers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay.

A parade of ships entered Mayport as friends, families, dignitaries and spectators watched Sailors manning the rails on more than a dozen warships representing their respective navies.

"I am so thankful for the opportunity to participate in the tactics of our partner navies, as well as the chance to share in their rich customs and cultures," said Capt. Orlando Romero, commanding officer, Colombian Navy auxiliary ship ARC Cartegena de Indias.

During the 16-day exercise, more than 25 ships, four submarines, 50 aircraft, and 7,000 Sailors and Marines took part in training tailored to address a variety of mission specific areas including live-fire exercises, undersea warfare, shipboard operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defense and surface warfare, amphibious operations, electronic warfare, and special warfare.

"As we move forward together, I am confident that future opportunities to work with our partners will not only strengthen our ability to operate together and provide for our nations security but will also build personal and professional respect and friendships," said Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO) and Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet.

The exercise is designed to train participating forces in a variety of maritime scenarios, each operating as a component of a multinational force, and providing the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability.

"All of the navies are learning from the multi-mission exercise. We're establishing a command and control infrastructure to run scenarios which we may encounter in a real time environment," said Capt. Rudy Laco, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 40.

"We have been able to get underway from day one - sorting eighteen ships, establishing a command and control network and accomplishing multiple taskings including a photo exercise and an MIO (maritime interdiction operations) boarding."