ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- In preparation for its 2009 Southern Seas deployment, the guided-missile frigate USS Doyle (FFG 39) participated in UNITAS Gold April 20-May 5.
UNITAS Gold, was the 50th iteration of UNITAS, the longest running multinational military exercise in the world. The partnership building maritime training exercise took place in Mayport, Fla., and in the Atlantic Ocean.
Along with other U.S. Navy ships, Doyle's worked with partner nation maritime forces from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, participating in a number of training exercises conducting operations through several realistic scenarios. The exercise promoted interoperability and the development of multi-lateral security cooperation.
The Ship Rider program is an important aspect of conducting UNITAS and developing vital partnerships. Doyle's Damage Control Assistant, Lt. j. g. Geoffrey Hensley experienced hosting two foreign officers from Cartagena, Colombia who cross decked and rode on board Doyle during UNITAS.
"UNITAS has provided a great opportunity working with foreign navies," said Hensley. "I had an excellent experience establishing long lasting relationships with officers from Brazil, Peru, Chile and Colombia. This is extremely important for building our partnerships with other countries."
Doyle's Auxiliaries Officer, Lt. j. g. Michael Q. Matt, served as the acting officer of the deck for many of the major events during UNITAS Gold.
"I think the most important effect of the UNITAS exercise is diplomatic," said Matt. "The nations in the Western Hemisphere have a strong tradition of sticking together and supporting one another, through such venues as the Organization of American States. The UNITAS exercise takes that attitude of multinational cooperation and brings it to the military. Exercises of this type engender familiarity and trust in one another, which is always needed in today's world."
Upon the completion of UNITAS exercises all the ships returned to Mayport in parade formation. The UNITAS 50th Iteration Commemoration Dinner put the finishing touches on an incredibly successful UNITAS. The guest Speaker, Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable BJ Penn provided the closing remarks incorporating the themes of cooperation and trust between the participating navies. Guests from each of the countries were seated at different tables to continue the friendship building aspect of the event.
"The event was a great chance to meet with the officers that I had worked with during the UNITAS events and allowed for me to exchange information for our upcoming port visits," said Operations Officer, Lt. Greta Densham.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.