UNITAS is a longstanding, multinational maritime exercise conducted annually in Atlantic and Pacific waters around Central and South America to enhance security cooperation and improve coalition operations. The Colombian navy hosted UNITAS LXIV, which featured 26 warships/vessels, three submarines, 25 aircraft (fixed wing/helicopter), and approximately 7,000 people from 20 partner nations. From July 11 - 21, 2023, participating forces conducted operations off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, and ashore in Covenas and Barranquilla, Colombia. 

Photos from UNITAS


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UNITAS is an annual exercise conducted in Atlantic and Pacific waters around Central and South America. UNITAS LXIV included maritime and amphibious phases and, for the first time ever, included integrated operations of unmanned systems in the exercise. The exercise was held July 11-21, 2023, in Colombia.

The exercise develops and sustains relationships that increase the capacity of our emerging and enduring partners’ maritime forces to achieve common desired effects. 

Training Scenarios

UNITAS' challenging training addresses key aspects of multinational and combined operations such as technology standardization and common operating procedures. Training included scenarios addressing electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-surface warfare, live fire, maritime interdiction, littoral operations, and amphibious operations. 

UNITAS LXIV consisted of two concurrent phases: at sea and amphibious. The maritime domain included the littorals which incorporates not only the ocean, but also the area inland from the shore that can be supported and defended directly from the sea. The majority of the amphibious training took place along the coast where marines and naval infantry trained in support of greater naval operations. The amphibious phase consisted of riverine operations and culminated in a landing from naval vessels.  

Unmanned Systems training: In April the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations announced that the Navy will scale unmanned systems to the fleet level by operationalizing unmanned systems in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations. Specific to UNITAS LXIV, the Navy deployed and exercised several unmanned systems to enhance maritime domain awareness, conduct battle damage assessment in support of the UNITAS LXIV live-fire sink exercise, or SINKEX, and integrate unmanned system operations with partner nation navies. The deployment of multiple unmanned systems is new to UNITAS but will become the standard as NAVSOUTH/4th Fleet takes lessons learned to inform the Navy’s hybrid fleet coming in the next decade. Additionally, the U.S. Marine Corps employed unmanned systems in support of its Force Design 2030 concept and will refine tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to inform the service on operational employment.

Women, Peace and Security Symposium: UNITAS LXIV featured a forum on the topic of women, peace and security. The forum is part of a global effort to support the contributions of women in the defense and security sectors around the world. The program is a cornerstone to SOUTHCOM’s mission of promoting security partnerships across the Western Hemisphere. 

Participating Countries

UNITAS LXIV featured 20 participating countries: Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, South Korea, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and the United States. 

Participating U.S. Forces

  • USS New York (LPD 21)
  • USS Cole (DDG 67)
  • USS Little Rock (LCS 9)
  • USS Pasadena (SSN 752)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet
  • U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)


UNITAS I took place in 1960 with forces from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, the United States, and Venezuela. This year marks the 64th iteration of the world’s longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise. Additionally, this year Colombia celebrated the bicentennial of its navy, a historical milestone commemorating 200 years of the country’s maritime forces.