CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 11, 2012) The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36), foreground, conducts tactical maneuvers with the Brazilian frigate BNS Greenhalgh (F-46). Underwood and Greenhalgh are group sailing to Key West, Fla. for UNITAS Atlantic 53-2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stuart Phillips/Released)
KEY WEST, Fla. (NNS) -- Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) arrived in Key West, Fla., for the start of UNITAS Atlantic (LANT) 53-2012 and pinned seven new Chief Petty Officers, Sept. 14.
UNITAS is a multinational exercise including ships from the U.S. Navy and seven partner nation navies that include maritime interdiction operation exercises, flight operations, replenishments at sea, and communication exercises.
"This is the culmination of everything we have worked for up to this point during our deployment," said Cmdr. Peter T. Mirisola, commanding officer of Underwood. "I am looking forward to working with the navies from the participating countries and I know the crew is ready to execute the evolutions involved to the best of their ability."
The exercise is designed to increase cooperation and interoperability with the other participating navies and to promote friendly relationships with them.
"UNITAS gives us a chance to showcase how professional we are and to learn how to operate with other navies in a multi-national environment," said Mirisola.
Mirisola also pinned seven new Chief Petty Officers in a ceremony aboard Underwood. The Chief Petty Officers went through a six-week induction process after being selected in August to become Chiefs.
"All of the hard work over the years has paid off," said Chief Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) (SW) Maurice Gil. "I am proud of my peers who went through the same process as me and now we can call ourselves true leaders who want to take care of our junior enlisted guys."
Naval forces from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States will officially start UNITAS LANT 53-12, an annual multi-national naval exercise, in Key West, Fla., Sept. 17. UNITAS is the longest running and largest maritime exercise in the Western Hemisphere and is hosted by Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander of U.S. 4th Fleet.
Underwood is deployed to Central and South America and the Caribbean in support of U.S. 4th Fleet's mission, Southern Seas 2012.
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.