MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (NNS) -- U.S. Navy guided-missile frigates USS Boone (FFG 28) and USS Thach (FFG 43), and U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Escanaba (WMEC 907) arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, May 13.
The ships' time in port will be spent training with Uruguayan sailors and fostering international bonds in support of the Southern Seas 2011 deployment.
While in port, the ships are scheduled to participate in a variety of activities, ranging from a community relations (COMREL) project and the delivery of Project Handclasp humanitarian assistance supplies, to subject matter expert exchanges and a sports competition with the Uruguayan War College.
The U.S. Embassy in Uruguay and Boone hosted a weekend reception to kickoff the visit.
"Hosting the reception affords us the opportunity to learn from our South American partners, and to mutually share valuable insights into each other's cultures," said Cmdr. Roy Love, commanding officer, USS Boone. "The crew of Boone is extremely fortunate and proud to host this event. We look forward to all the programmed engagements with the people and Navy of Uruguay."
Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from the visiting U.S. ships volunteered at the Maruja Sterling Boys Orphanage, May 14. The volunteers worked with the children and staff there on several projects to improve the facilities.
The ships will also deliver humanitarian aid to the region in the form of several pallets of Project Handclasp materials. Project Handclasp is a non-profit organization that works with the U.S. Navy to deliver aide and supplies around the world.
"Our aim is to ensure that these supplies make it to those who are most in need," said Ensign David Lovejoy, Thach's administrative officer. "It's always a good feeling to know you're making a difference in someone else's life."
Crews from the ships will also engage in subject matter expert exchanges. Topics will focus on maritime interdiction operations and search and rescue operations. Sailors from both navies will share experiences and expertise to improve interoperability.
Upon departure, Boone and Thach will continue to support Southern Seas 2011. Southern Seas involves major multi-lateral exercises such as UNITAS, PANAMAX and SIFOREX and several theatre security coordination events that improve participating nation interoperability and support the U.S. Global Maritime Strategy, which emphasizes strong relationships.
COMUSNAVSO/COMFOURTHFLT 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.
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For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.