MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigates USS Boone (FFG 28) and USS Thach (FFG 43), and U.S Coast Guard cutter USCGC Escanaba (WMEC 907) spent two days in Montevideo, Uruguay, as part of Southern Seas 2011, May 13-14.
The ships' visit focused on building relationships between the maritime services, and strengthening the bond between the U.S. and Uruguay through several military, community relations and personal interaction events.
"It is important for the Navy to conduct all of these cooperation events in order to build interoperability between our armed forces and those of our partner nations." said Cmdr. Roy Love, commanding officer of USS Boone. "We accomplish this through consistent and valuable interaction with partner nation navies and coast guards. Each exchange helps us to learn from our partners, while simultaneously sharing the lessons we have learned in our own operations."
The U.S. Embassy in Uruguay hosted a reception aboard Boone. More than 100 civilian officials and military guests mingled on the flight deck during the event, which was set up and staffed by Boone's Sailors.
"Events like this put a human face on the relationships we are building," said U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay, David Nelson. "There is a lot of mythology out there. These events show our coop-eration in an extremely positive light, in an area most people don't expect."
Sailors also unloaded cases of health care products, provided through Project Handclasp and transported aboard Thach, for the Center for the Promottion of Human Dignity Battered Women's Center. The supplies were transferred to the U.S. Embassy, who will deliver them at a later time.
A group of Sailors and Coast Guardsmen cleaned, painted, and handed out soccer balls and stuffed animals for the kids at the Hogar Maruja Stirling Boy's Orphanage. The children were taken to Escanaba for lunch and a tour while the group continued working at the orphanage.
"When Sailors interact with community projects, we are sending a message that we want to help and better understand how other countries live," said Lt. j.g. Tameka Howze, Boone's auxiliary officer. "We show the importance of positive interaction and give other countries a better view of Americans."
At the Uruguayan Naval Academy, sailors from both countries played each other in basketball and volleyball.
"It is key to engage partner nations not only professionally, but personally as well. Sporting events are instrumental to building relationships and friendships amongst the Sailors outside of the workplace. Each Sailor enjoys the competition and the games provide more opportunities for interaction with their counterparts," said Robert Speight, executive officer of USS Boone.
During a subject matter expert exchange U.S. Navy helicopter pilots briefed pilots from the Uruguayan navy aboard Boone about various flight operations at sea.
"Our sailors work extremely hard to maintain this ship in top material condition. It is an honor and a point of pride for them to be able to show the ship to anyone who visits. They also train hard, and are eager to demonstrate their skills and technical expertise to our partners in the region," said Love.
After Montevideo, Boone and Thach will continue with the Southern Seas 2011 deployment within the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility.
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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