KEY WEST, Fla. - Naval forces from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the United Kingdom and the United States will kick off the Atlantic Phase of UNITAS 2012, an annual multi-national exercise, in Key West on Monday, Sept. 17, at 9:30 a.m.
This is the longest running and largest maritime exercise in this hemisphere and is hosted by Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris, commander of U.S. Fourth Fleet (conducted for 53 years). Thirteen warships will arrive in Key West the weekend of Sept 15-16 to officially begin the exercise Sept. 17 at the Naval Air Station. Media representatives are welcome to visit the base Sept 17 to cover the opening ceremony, media availability, community relations projects and to visit a Brazilian frigate and U.S. Navy cruiser.
The multi-national naval forces will conduct operations in Key West and in the Western Caribbean through Sept. 28, 2012. UNITAS 2012 is designed 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.
The schedule for the media events are as follows:
Opening ceremony and media availability: Trumbo Point Key West: Media invited
9 a.m.- Meet NAS Key West public affairs officer, Trice Denny, at Trumbo Point gate. Media representatives must call in advance with full name and organization. Phone: 305-293-2027.
9:30 a.m. - Opening ceremony. Speaker: Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet.
10:30 a.m. - Media availability with Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, Vice Adm. Jones, Royal Navy and the commanding officers of partner nation ships and aviation units.
Community service projects: Media invited
11:30 a.m. - Community projects: helping in the community.
Approximately 75 service members have volunteered to work on three community projects in Key West, Sept. 17, 2012. Directly following the media availability, Adm. Harris will visit one of the locations. 4th Fleet public affairs officer, Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, will escort interested media to the project.
Habitat for Humanity: Media invited
Multi-national volunteers will conduct repairs to low income housing units built in the 1920s. Habitat for Humanity adopted the restoration of the historic buildings after the late owner asked for help in his last will. One week after Habitat for Humanity started work, one of the units was destroyed by fire. Since then, volunteers have been restoring the damaged apartment and preparing others for restoration.
Multinational volunteers will prepare several units to be renovated.
St. Mary's Star of the Sea food pantry: Media invited
The food pantry, opened in 2006, is a nonprofit food bank and one of the largest in South Florida. On average, the pantry hands out 50,000 pounds of food each month to struggling families.Officers and sailors from British destroyer, HMS Dauntless (D-33), will rebuild a bathroom.
Sigsbee School: Media invited
The school is a nonprofit charter school with grades K-8 and focuses on maritime and environmental studies. The school is located at Naval Air Station Key West. The students consist of children of military members stationed at Key West as well as local students who apply.
Multinational volunteers will conduct landscaping and grounds beautification for the students.
Open ship tours: Media invited
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Warships from the U.S. and partner nation naval forces participating in UNITAS will be open for free public tours. The ships from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard; United Kingdom; Colombia; Brazil; Mexico; Dominican Republic.
Please refer to press release for more information. The Navy band will entertain visiting guests.
Visitors are welcome to visit as many ships as they wish during the tour hours.
Navy Band Southeast Public Concert in Key West: Media invited
6 p.m. Navy Rock-N-Roll Band Southeast, PRIDE, from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. will be performing at Mallory Square in Key West, the concert is free and open to the public.
Interested media please contact:
NAS Key West public affairs officer, Trice Denny: 305-293-2027 or 4th Fleet public affairs officer, Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker: 817-374-0041