MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- USS Underwood (FFG 36) departed on its final deployment in support of Southern Seas 2012, April 23.
The deployment will begin by participating in Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMTUEX) with the Eisenhower Strike Group as part of their pre-deployment training. The ship and crew will then deploy to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) May 2 to conduct Southern Seas 2012. Southern Seas will include the multinational exercises UNITAS Pacific (UNITAS PAC), Silent Forces Exercise (SIFOREX) and UNITAS Atlantic (UNITAS LANT).
"Underwood completed our final basic phase training back in February and we've been working for well over a year in preparation for Southern Seas 2012. As we head out the door we'll finish our integrated phase training with Eisenhower Strike Group COMTUEX, which will be our certifying event allowing us to move out on deployment to Fourth Fleet," Cmdr. Peter T. Mirisola, commanding officer, USS Underwood (FFG 36) said.
Underwood will also support Operation Martillo, a joint, interagency and multi-national collaborative mission among Western Hemisphere and European nations to deny Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) air and maritime access to the littoral regions of the Central American isthmus. Operation Martillo targets narcotics, precursor chemicals, bulk cash, weapons and humans being transported via maritime and air domains.
Southern Seas is an annual collaborative deployment to conduct a variety of exercises, missions and multinational subject matter expert exchanges. The focus is on enhancing interoperability, increase regional stability, and building and maintaining regional relationships with countries throughout the hemisphere through joint, multinational and interagency exchanges and cooperation.
"It is going to be quite a privilege and an honor to go down there. I know the crew's excited. We're going to have a lot of great visits. We're looking forward to the multi-national engagement with our Central and South American and Caribbean nation hosts," Mirisola said.
Formally known as the Partnership of the Americas, Southern Seas gives a distinct name to one of the United States' marquee deployments. This is the seventh such deployment and falls under U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) Partnership of the Americas initiative.
"There's no better way for Underwood to deploy than to support Southern Seas and UNITAS. This is the United States' longest standing annual exercise and the crown jewel of naval exercises for the U.S. Navy. There's no better way to end the ship's service life than to finish with UNITAS deployment," said Mirisola.
Underwood will return to Mayport in November 2012 and be decommissioned in March 2013. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate was commissioned January 29, 1983 and conducted her maiden deployment in 1985. Underwood participated in numerous counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea in her 29 years of service to the fleet.
After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Underwood and her crew deployed immediately to the island and provided critical medical assistance in support of Operation Unified Response.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally 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.
To follow the ship on its final deployment, become a fan at www.facebook.com/NavySouthernSeas or subscribe to http://southernseas2012.blogspot.com.
For more information, visit www.public.navy.mil/comusnavso-c4f, www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4thflt, or www.twitter.com/navsous4thflt.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.