MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Delegates from the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet met with members of Marina de Guerra del Per (MGP-Peruvian Navy), Feb.17-18, during the annual Operational Naval Committee (ONC) conference.
This year the conference was hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO) in Mayport.
ONC is organized to discuss and plan upcoming maritime operations, exercises, and theater security cooperation events that the U.S. and Peru intend to conduct.
"It is my pleasure to open this conference, which I hope will continue to improve our navies' interoperability, enhance our mutual security, and, perhaps most importantly, continue to strengthen the friendships between the representatives of the United States and Peruvian navies," said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO)/U.S. 4th Fleet.
During the conference, participants engaged in face-to-face discussions and shared insights on developing operational and tactical procedures, which allow for increased interoperability between the two navies, as well as their countries' mutual goals of maritime security and their involvement in various exercises.
Peruvian Rear Adm. Edwin Zegarra, the chief of the general staff for the Peruvian Navy commander of Pacific operations, said ONC helps optimize operations between both navies and future plans for PANAMAX participation. PANAMAX the annual multi-national exercise focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, crucial to the unrestricted flow of global maritime commerce.
Cmdr. Matthew Ghen, director, Communications and Information Systems & Secretary Inter-American Naval Telecommunications Network (IANTN), briefed the group on the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS), the increasing importance of its usage in 4th Fleet area of responsibility, and the integration benefits throughout the U.S. Navy and our partner nation navies.
The U.S. and Peru have a strong maritime partnership and have conducted several multinational exercises and operations together. Since the last ONC, held at the Centro Naval San Borja in Lima in 2015, the Peruvian Navy has participated in the long-standing PANAMAX and UNITAS exercises, attended Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander's (CFMCC) Course in Miami, and continued participation in the Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI) with the deployment of BAP Antofagasta (SS 32).
"The focus of these conferences has much to do about working toward mutual security between our two navies," said Ballance. "But, I hope you do not only concentrate on work, as these are opportunities for us to get together as friends, develop relationships, and learn about the culture of our two nations."
ONCs provide a platform for the U.S. Navy to engage with partner nations and identify efforts that will enhance relationships and mutually beneficial goals. The agreements they produce and engagements they lead to directly support the U.S. Navy's new maritime strategy, which emphasizes cooperative relationships with international partners.
USNAVSO and U.S. 4th Fleet support U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, and Central and South American regions.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.