CALLAO, Peru (NNS) -- Naval representatives from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and the United States gathered in the Ricardo Palma auditorium at the Peruvian naval base to officially recognize the beginning of UNITAS Pacific (PAC) at an opening ceremony in Callao, Peru, May 14.
Leaders from each country's navy took turns addressing the audience as the ceremony commenced.
Capt. Ace Van Wagoner, commander of Destroyer Squadron 40 and mission commander of UNITAS PAC, represented the U.S. Navy at the ceremony. After thanking Peru for hosting UNITAS PAC and for demonstrating hospitality and professionalism to the U.S., Van Wagoner spoke about the importance of UNITAS for everyone involved.
"This exercise is a renewed promise to enhance regional partnerships and promote hemispheric stability," said Van Wagoner. "Through exercises like UNITAS, we learn from each other, sharing the best practices and proving collective reliability for addressing hemispheric maritime challenges."
The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) is representing the U.S. Navy during UNITAS PAC. Underwood's commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief also attended the ceremony.
UNITAS will include live-fire exercises, a drone exercise, nighttime ship evolutions, tactical maneuvering, maritime interdiction operations, flight operations among other events and joint operations.
"I hope everyone leaves here at the end of UNITAS having learned something new from one another," said Van Wagoner. "I hope we exchange experiences and gain new perspectives on each other's cultures and people. We are here today because we are professional mariners and on the seas we will share our operational capabilities and enhance communications training in dynamic, real-time environments. In today's world, these skills are what will provide joint security and stability in our hemisphere."
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM 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.
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/.