CARTEGENA, Colombia (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson attended the 28th Inter-American Naval Conference (IANC), July 25-26, in Cartagena, Colombia, and delivered remarks highlighting the U.S. Navy's commitment to its naval partnerships in the region.
"This forum, first initiated in 1959, has been critical to strengthening the bonds of partnership, collaboration, and friendship that define us - both as fellow naval professionals and as neighbors," Richardson said.
IANC provides a forum for the interchange of ideas, knowledge and mutual understanding of maritime challenges that affect the Western Hemisphere.
The theme of this year's IANC is countering drug trafficking and representatives from 18 navies attended the event to include the navies of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
The conference is one part of CNO's multi-day trip to South America to strengthen partnerships and seek more opportunities for combined operations.
"We have worked alongside the nations of this continent to build, refine, maintain and execute a broad spectrum of capabilities - from law enforcement to high-end anti-submarine warfare, and everything in between," Richardson said. "Our work together, here and in oceans far away, demonstrates that we are ready to sail into any waters, face any challenges, and emerge victorious together."
Richardson met individually with his counterpart heads of navy from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru to discuss deepening their naval partnerships with the U.S. toward a common goal of a maritime environment that is secure, orderly, and prosperous for all nations.
"We are all Americans here; however, we are bound by more than simply our shared geography," Richardson said. "We share inter-American values and a commitment to regional and global institutions that are designed to confront common security challenges. That we are here together is no coincidence. While military-to-military-relationships are important, I believe Navy-to-Navy partnerships are the 'first among equals.' These Navy relationships are so natural because we share backgrounds, cultures, knowledge, and a love and respect for the sea and what it can provide."
While in Colombia, Richardson attended the 50th anniversary of the three-masted barque ARC Gloria, the official flagship of the Colombian Navy, July 25. He also visited the crew of the USCG Hamilton and praised the U.S. Coast Guardsmen for their part in seizing and offloading more than seven tons of illegal cocaine in February.
CNO will meet next with South American naval partners during planned engagements in Chile, Argentina and Brazil.