Sea services of the Americas kick off UNITAS 2011

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba put their training to use as they tie down a Navy Seahawk. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba put their training to use as they tie down a Navy Seahawk. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann

It’s official. The start of the 52nd annual UNITAS multilateral training event has begun.

Unitas, Latin for unity, is a South American and U.S. sponsored series of annual military exercises aimed at promoting regional partnerships by building relationships and sharing expertise to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central, North and South American regions.

USS Boone transits the Caribbean Sea on its way towards its first port call for Southern Seas 2011.  Boone is one of four ships deployed to take part in UNITAS. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

USS Boone transits the Caribbean Sea on its way towards its first port call for Southern Seas 2011. Boone is one of four ships deployed to take part in UNITAS. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, one of the ships participating in UNITAS, met with the U.S. Navy ships USS Boone and USS Thach off the coast of Brazil as they were making their way to UNITAS. Both crews saw this as an opportunity to learn from the other’s diverse culture of operations, so representatives were sent to intermingle, to learn, to teach and improve an already dynamic relationship.

“This deployment continues our efforts implementing the national sea power strategy,” said Cmdr. Edward Westfall, commanding officer of Escanaba. “In working with our sister sea service, the U.S. Navy, as well as partner nation navies, we are improving our flexibility, interoperability and maintaining a forward presence. These skills are critical in conducting the wide variety of missions and operations that occur on the water, around the globe.”

UNITAS is the world’s oldest ongoing multilateral maritime exercise and provides opportunities to develop international partnerships, exercise naval and seamanship skills, and generally prepare for challenges faced in contributing to the security and stability of each country’s respective maritime domain.

As part of this continuing effort, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Page, a boatswain’s mate aboard USS Boone, went aboard the Escanaba to teach the crew how the Navy ties down and secures their helicopters to their helipads.

Lt. Andrew Goshorn watches from aboard Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba as the USS Boone transits the Caribbean Sea on its way towards its first port call.  Boone and Escanaba are two of four ships deployed to Central and South America to take part in the upcoming exercises as part of UNITAS. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Lt. Andrew Goshorn watches from aboard Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba as the USS Boone transits the Caribbean Sea. Boone and Escanaba are two of four ships deployed to Central and South America to take part in the upcoming exercises as part of UNITAS. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

“Their Navy Seahawks are different from our Coast Guard Jayhawks on their tie-downs. They don’t use straps, they use chains,” said Coast Guard Seaman Jakob Hansen, a member of the deck crew aboard Escanaba. “They have a different method than we do, so [Page] walked us through it.”

The crew of the Escanaba picked up the training very quickly, which was evident when less than 15 minutes after the training ended orders came over the intercom to prepare for an incoming Navy HH-60 Seahawk helicopter.

“It went pretty well,” said Hansen. “[Page] painted a very good picture for us, so when the helo came we knew exactly what to do, what it was going to look like and what motions to go through for it. It went really smooth for what little time we had to prepare for it.”

Even before the Escanaba’s crew meets up with the navies of other participating countries, they’ve had their first taste of a successful training evolution. And if this one instance is any indication of things to come, it won’t be their last.

A Navy HH-60 Seahawk helicopter lands on the helideck of USS Boone as it makes its way towards its first port call.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

A Navy HH-60 Seahawk helicopter lands on the helideck of USS Boone as it makes its way towards its first port call. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

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