KEY WEST, Fla. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) hosted Rear Adm. Christopher Tomney, director of Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South), July 10 during the ship's visit to Naval Air Station Key West.
The U.S. Coast Guard admiral, in charge of the Key West-based task force dedicated to countering illicit trafficking, toured the Spearhead and addressed the ship's military detachment to mark the opening phase of Southern Partnership Station 2017 (SPS 17).
Tomney welcomed the Spearhead to Key West and spoke about the importance of the ship's opportunity to support the JIATF South mission during SPS 17.
"With a remarkable array of sensors and capabilities, the Spearhead and its crew will be a force multiplier for the maritime forces patrolling the international commons in the Western Hemisphere. I'm looking forward to getting Spearhead into the fight," said Tomney.
Spearhead's operation in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) is one of the many deployments that will take place during SPS 17, and is an example of the Navy's continued commitment to regional partnerships and maritime security.
"Just as a crew must work together to protect a ship from external threats, the nations of the Western Hemisphere are working together to counter the threats posed by illicit threat networks," said Tomney.
Tomney emphasized how the Spearhead's lift, speed, presence and flight deck capabilities make the ship a highly desirable asset in the international coalition arrayed to combat threat actors in the region.
Upon departure from Key West, Spearhead will continue preparations to begin interoperability, medical and disaster preparedness training with regional military and civilian partners in Central and South America.
SPS-EPF 17 is a U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) directed operation planned by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (USNAVSO/ FOURTHFLT) and carried out by deployed adaptive force packages (AFPs) under the direction of the Destroyer Squadron 40 staff.
AFPs are specialized teams of U.S. service members from the fields of engineering, force protection and medical. They will deploy aboard the civil service mariner operated Spearhead in support of SPS-EPF 17, to collaborate with partner nation military forces through naval-focused training exercises, military-to-military engagements and community relations projects. This year's deployments will visit Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, and Colombia.
USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT supports USSOUTHCOM's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central, and South American regions.
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