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News | Oct. 7, 2021

62nd UNITAS concludes, successfully conducting a full-spectrum of Maritime, Amphibious, and Jungle Operations

By Lt. Laura Price, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command / U.S. 4th Fleet

LIMA, Peru – UNITAS LXII (62), the world’s longest-running multinational maritime exercise concluded with a closing ceremony in Lima, Peru, Oct. 6.

This year's exercise was hosted by the Peruvian navy and included 32 warships/vessels, four submarines, and 26 aircraft that conducted scenario-driven joint and combined operations and training off the coast of Lima and in the jungles of Iquitos.

Navy and marine forces from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, South Korea, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and the United States participated in the exercise.

“During UNITAS we operated as a unified force. Well done. Thank you to the nations, who made significant investments in your sailors, marines, airmen, ships and all other assets of this exercise,” said Rear Admiral Jim Aiken, commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “Congratulations to Peru on 200 years of excellence in the maritime domain on the sea and on the land. Thank you for hosting this amazing exercise.”

The exercise progressed in phases, beginning in port with sporting events, an international cuisine festival, and community relations projects to build relations between partner nations.

The at-sea phase included a multi-threat, multi-day scenario that allowed participants to work together, further increasing preparedness for real-world crises that would require a multinational force response effort. Events included: surface tactical maneuvers, a sinking exercise (SINKEX), live-fire exercises, a replenishment-at-sea, search and rescue exercises, anti-submarine warfare exercises, air defense exercises and maritime interdiction operations.

The amphibious phase included U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - UNITAS training alongside partner nation counterparts from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, and Peru at the Peruvian Marine Corps Base in Ancon, Peru. Training events included tactical combat casualty care, repelling and fast-rope training, HADR, small boat training, urban clearing, and small arms live-fire ranges. It culminated in a large-scale, multinational amphibious landing at Las Salinas Beach.

Lastly, the Amazon/jungle phase included special operations and reconnaissance forces that conducted training in jungle survival, small arms, river navigation, small boat and riverine operations, and combat patrolling from Peru’s riverine training center near Iquitos.

The exercise coincides with Peru’s bicentennial, a historical milestone commemorating 200 years of the country’s independence and the birth of their navy.

Participating U.S. forces in UNITAS LXII included the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), the amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771), the “Scorpions” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49, the “Golden Eagles” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9, Special Boat Team (SBT) 22, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET), Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 7, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR), 2d Transportation Support Battalion, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 269, 2d Force Reconnaissance Company, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH), and U.S. 4th Fleet.

UNITAS is designed to train forces to conduct joint maritime operations through the execution of littoral warfare, anti-piracy, maritime interdiction operations, countering transnational organized crime, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, communications exercises, and air and amphibious operations that increase interoperability and capability between participating navy and marine forces.

UNITAS, which is Latin for “unity,” was conceived in 1959, first executed in 1960 and held every year since. This year marks the 62nd iteration of the world’s longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise.

UNITAS develops and sustains relationships that improve the capacity of our reemerging and enduring maritime partners to achieve common objectives. Additionally, the military-to-military exchanges foster friendly, mutual cooperation and understanding between participating navies and marine corps.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’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 region.