Nations join United States in naval drills that include training against piracy
MAYPORT NAVAL STATION, Fla. - Navies from the United States and 11 other countries yesterday launched two weeks of war exercises off Florida's Atlantic coast that will include training in combating piracy and drug smuggling.
Several Latin American countries, Canada, and Germany are taking part in UNITAS Gold, which is now in its 50th year and is the Navy's longest-running yearly exercise. Hundreds of white-uniformed officers held an opening ceremony before embarking on ships, submarines, and aircraft to begin training meant to foster naval cooperation throughout the Americas.
Sailors, Marines, and other military forces will participate in live-fire exercises, undersea warfare, and helicopter and amphibious operations, among other training. More than 25 ships, four submarines, 6,500 sailors, and 50 aircraft are taking part in the $7 million exercise hosted by the US Navy's Fourth Fleet, based at Mayport Naval Station near Jacksonville.
Rear Admiral Joseph Kernan, commander of US Naval Forces Southern Command and of the Fourth Fleet, noted that multinational forces are combating piracy off Somalia and said exercises such as UNITAS will help nations coordinate efforts to oppose that scourge. "If piracy proliferates into the region, my belief is that exercises of this nature will allow us to address it effectively," he said.
Other countries involved in the exercises are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay.
"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 respect and friendships," he said.