Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Multinational Ships Get Underway for UNITAS Atlantic, Conduct Air Defense Exercise

 The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dauntless (D 33) gets underway for the annual UNITAS Atlantic Phase maritime exercise hosted by U.S. 4th Fleet and conducted in the western Caribbean Sea. Multinational ships from ten partner nations departed Naval Air Station Key West for the exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker/Released)

By Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs
CARIBBEAN SEA (NNS) -- Naval forces from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States departed Naval Air Station Key West Sept. 20 and conducted air defense exercises to begin the at-sea phase of the Atlantic Phase of UNITAS, an annual multinational exercise hosted by Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet.

Thirteen warships are conducting operations in the Atlantic Ocean and Western Caribbean through Sept. 28. UNITAS trains the 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.

Shortly after departing Naval Air Station Key West, F-5N Freedom Fighter attack aircraft from VAW-111 adversary squadron tested the ship's air defense capabilities.

"This was a very important evolution as it was the first time the multinational ships were able to assemble at sea and work as a team to defend the task group from aerial threats," Capt. Ace VanWagoner, commander, Combined Task Group 138.20 said. "The adversary airplanes flew threatening approaches towards the task group and the ships were able to respond quickly and successfully defended themselves," he said.

This year's Atlantic Phase will include a live-free exercises and a Navy Standard Missile (SM-2) launch against remote control aerial targets launched from the flight deck of frigate, USS Underwood (FFG 36).

"While the overarching goal of the exercise is to develop and test command and control of forces at sea, training in this exercise will address the spectrum of maritime operations," Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet, Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris said.

"Specifically, there will be high-end warfare scenarios addressing electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and maritime interdiction operations," he said.

UNITAS develops and sustains relationships to improve the capacity of our partners' maritime forces. This annual exercise fosters friendly, mutual cooperation and understanding between participating navies. The participating ships have swapped crews as part of a subject matter expert exchange. USS Anzio (CG 68), the UNITAS flagship, embarked personnel from Peru, Brazil, Mexico, France and Canada.