UNITAS Gold Marks 50 Years of International Maritime Cooperation
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 21, 2009 The Navy’s longest-running annual multilateral exercise got underway yesterday off the Florida coast, with 11 participating nations working together to promote maritime security and stability in Latin America.
Navy Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command, called the 50th UNITAS Gold exercise a milestone for naval cooperation in the Western Hemisphere.
Initially launched to strengthen participants’ capability to defend the Americas against Soviet submarines, the exercise changed over time to address evolving security challenges, Stavridis noted.
“Yet, the core purpose has remained constant: the desire to build mutually beneficial partnerships among the navies of the Western Hemisphere,” he said.
Stavridis said he’s operated as part of UNITAS numerous times during his Navy career. “What I have learned, through partnership and friendship, about our friends in the Americas has been invaluable to me,” he said.
This year’s UNITAS Gold, hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet, includes the militaries of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.
The U.S. Navy’s amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde, guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook and guided missile frigates USS Doyle and USS Kaufman are among the 25 participating ships, along with four submarines, more than 50 aircraft, 650 Marines and 6,500 sailors.
The scenario-driven training will feature live-fire exercises, undersea warfare, shipboard operations, maritime interdiction operations, anti-air and anti-surface warfare, amphibious operations, electronic warfare and special warfare, officials said.
“As we move forward together, I am confident the future opportunities to work with our partners will not only strengthen our ability to operate together for our nations’ security, but will also build personal and professional respect and friendships,” said Navy Adm. Joseph Kernan, commander of NAVSO and U.S. 4th Fleet.