CARTAGENA, Colombia (NNS) -- Naval forces from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru, the United Kingdom and the United States kicked off UNITAS 2013, an annual multinational exercise, Sept. 8 in Cartagena, Colombia.
This year's exercise is hosted by the Colombian navy and will include 19 warships that will conduct operations in the Western Caribbean Sea through Sept. 15.
Observers from Belize, El Salvador, Germany, Jamaica, Panama and Mexico are also participating in the exercise.
UNITAS is intended to train participating forces in a variety of maritime scenarios to test command and control of forces at sea while operating as a multinational force to provide the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability.
"While the overarching goal of the exercise is to develop and test command and control of forces at sea, training in this exercise will address the spectrum of maritime operations," said Rear Adm. Sinclair M. Harris, the U.S. 4th Fleet commander.
UNITAS develops and sustains relationships that improve the capacity of U.S. and partner nation maritime forces through complex and comprehensive multinational training at sea.
"Specifically, there will be high-end warfare scenarios addressing electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and maritime interdiction operations," Harris said.
The training focuses on developing coalition building, multilateral security cooperation, promoting tactical interoperability and friendship, professionalism and mutual understanding among the participating partner nations.
The next UNITAS exercise is scheduled for spring 2014.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet employ maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships that foster regional security in the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.