VALPARAISO, Chile (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigates USS Boone (FFG 28) and USS Thach (FFG 43) arrived in Valparaiso, Chile to begin the Pacific Phase (PAC) of UNITAS 52, June 24.
The frigates will participate in the Chilean hosted, two-week multinational exercise along with naval partners from Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, June 24 through July 8.
While in port, the ships' crews will participate in the opening ceremonies, planning conferences, a memorial to Chilean naval hero Arturo Pratt, and a community relations project. The U.S. contingent will also participate in baseball games with local club teams at the National Stadium of Santiago.
"I look forward to the camaraderie and lifelong friendships that will be made," said Cmdr. Jeff Scudder, Thach commanding officer. "This is important because the trust we establish on a personal level between us now, will mean I know we can count on each other when working to-gether in the future."
Throughout UNITAS PAC, the partner countries will operate and train together in scenario-based environments which include theater security operations, anti-terrorism and anti-narcotic operations, and surface defense warfare exercises. Overall, 13 ships and 11 aircraft are scheduled to participate from the partner nations.
"UNITAS enhances and demonstrates our commitment to addressing regional challenges that require cooperative action with and among the nations of the Americas," said Scudder. "Through cooperative exercises we will positively contribute to our nation's commitment to global partner-ships."
The exercise will allow U.S. Sailors the opportunity to work and train side-by-side with sailors of the Latin American navies. The relationships that develop from this exercise will help foster cooperation and understanding between participating countries.
"On the sea, these maritime exercises give us a chance to share our operational capabilities and enhance communications training in dynamic, real time environments," said Cmdr. Roy Love, Boone commanding officer. "These are invaluable tools in today's world, where economic development and progress depend on our ability to provide joint security and stability at sea."
The U.S. and Chilean navies have been operating together for more than a month, as the U.S. ships have made their way from Punta Arenas, Chile to Valparaiso. The navies have completed three passing exercises (PASSEX) and a replenishment-at-sea (RAS). The RAS was conducted with Chilean navy ship CNS Almirante Montt (AO 52). Almirante Montt was previously USNS Andrew J. Higgins (T-AO 190). This is the first time Almirante Montt has conducted a RAS with a foreign navy since she was commissioned in the Chilean navy.
"Over the last month, Boone and Thach have sailed through the Straits of Magellan, and up the coast of Chile, participating in very successful and exciting exercises with Chilean naval bases, ships, submarines, and helicopters," said Love. "We appreciate all of the hospitality and professionalism the Chilean navy has demonstrated in every engagement we have completed."
The six-week Chilean-American naval partnership and UNITAS PAC are part of the Southern Seas 2011 deployment. Southern Seas is an annual six-month deployment focused on building relationships with the navies of the Americas to strengthen regional maritime security.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principal-ly sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
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For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.