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News | July 17, 2023

20 Nations Meet for Maritime Exercise

By Petty Officer 1st Class Hunter Harwell DOD News

CARTAGENA, Colombia – Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro attended the opening ceremony for UNITAS LXIV, a multi-national maritime exercise that brings together 20 nations from all over the world to train forces in joint maritime operations that enhance tactical proficiency and increase interoperability. 

Participating nations include Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Spain, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay.

The Colombian Navy hosts this year's UNITAS, which will feature 26 warships/vessels, three submarines, 25 aircraft (fixed wing/helicopter), and approximately 7,000 people from 20 partner nations. Forces will conduct operations off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, and ashore in Covenas and Barranquilla, Colombia, through July 21.

“I am honored to help kick off UNITAS LXIV,” said Del Toro. “This is the world’s longest-running multinational maritime exercise in the world. The partnerships we share among the 20 nations participating in this exercise are critical to realizing the peace and security we desire in the Western Hemisphere.”

Following the UNITAS LXIV Opening Ceremony on July 12, the in port phase of the exercise will feature subject matter expert exchanges, professional symposia, ship rider exchanges, and operations meetings. During this time, Marines and Sailors will conduct expeditionary training events in Covenas to include riverine operations and diving and salvage operations.

“Economic security is national security,” said Del Toro. ”We must continue to work together to counter the common maritime challenges that threaten our way of life, and that run contrary to the rules-based international order.”

During the UNITAS LXIV Underway Phase, forces will participate in events testing all warfare operations, to include live-fire exercises such as a SINKEX and an amphibious ship-to-shore landing and force retraction.

As part of the U.S. Navy’s future hybrid fleet, the Chief of Naval Operations has tasked U.S. 4th Fleet to scale unmanned platforms to the fleet level. An addition to this year’s UNITAS will include the integrated operations of unmanned air, surface, and subsurface systems into the exercise. UNITAS’ challenging training address key aspects of multinational and combined operations such as technology standardization and common operating procedures.

U.S. Forces contributing to UNITAS LXIV include USS New York (LPD 21), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Little Rock (LCS 9), USS Pasadena (SSN 752), and USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10), Patrol Squadron Five (VP 5), Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EOD) 612, Mine Countermeasures Group 3, (MCMGRU 3), Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures EOD Company 61 (EODMU 61), East-coast based Naval Special Warfare units, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 (HSC 22), Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 Detachment 2 (HSM 70 Det 2), Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Eight, Meteorological Environmental Team (MET), 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment (3/23), 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion (4th AABn), 8th Combat Logistic Battalion (CLB 8), 4th Combat Engineer Battalion (4th CEB), Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 774 (VMM 774), Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 775 (HMLA 775), Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 (VMGR-234), Marine Aircraft Control Group – 48 (MACG-48), and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112 (VMFA-112), Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40, (COMDESRON 40), Commander, Amphibious Squadron Four (COMPHIBRON FOUR), U.S Marine Corps Forces South (MARFORSOUTH), Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH), USNAVSOUTH/FOURTHFLT, and U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).

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.