UNITAS 2011: International partners

Written by Ens. Ray Chaisson, Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba.

Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba is moored alongside of the Mexican Navy ship Baja California at its first port call for UNITAS. Escanaba and Baja California represent two of the four countries participating in this year's Southern Seas exercise. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba is moored alongside of the Mexican Navy ship Baja California at its first port call for UNITAS. Escanaba and Baja California represent two of the four countries participating in this year’s exercise. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. John Goshorn.

As a deployed cutter, Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba has had the opportunity to interact with several foreign navies. These interactions have led to many long lasting professional relationships and produced frameworks that can support multilateral operations when needed.

Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba prepare to moor alongside the Mexican Navy ship Baja California. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba prepare to moor alongside the Mexican Navy ship Baja California. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

In addition to deployed cutters, the Coast Guard also has personnel stationed in many of the countries with which we interact. These representatives have a great chance to work with another country’s maritime services and strengthen relationships with our international partners. This also provides the possibility of working with each other again in the future.

That possibility has come to fruition during this year’s UNITAS exercise. The commanders of two of the participating ships, Cmdr. Edward Westfall of Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba and Capitan de Fragata Jose Orozco of the Mexican Navy ship Baja California, are pleased to be working together once again.

The two of them first became acquainted when Westfall was stationed as assistant Coast Guard attaché in Mexico City prior to taking command of the Escanaba. Orozco, at the time, was serving on the staff at Mexican Naval Headquarters.

“I was thrilled,” said Westfall upon learning they would be deploying with their respective ships to UNITAS. “To have the opportunity to deploy with a shipmate and his fine crew is a terrific opportunity. I have really enjoyed seeing our two crews, as well as those from the other UNITAS ships; have the opportunity to learn from each other.”

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba thank the commanding officer from the Mexican Navy ship Baja California for his continued hospitality after a brief visit and tour of his ship. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba thank the commanding officer from the Mexican Navy ship Baja California for his continued hospitality after a brief visit and tour of his ship. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

Together, the Baja California and Escanaba have conducted three personnel exchanges, conducted a maritime interdiction role-playing scenario and worked in a scenario as teammates as an opposition force countering all of the other UNITAS participants.

“This is only a small example of what can really be gained…in the future. Young (personnel) are having the chance to interact and to understand other ways of doing…things,” said Orozco. “The real essence of this type of exchange are the personal and professional relationships (that are) made.”

Orozco added, “I truly believe that communication and interaction between us – and by our crews – has been very good because of this particular situation.”

This example demonstrates the benefits gained when the forward presence provided by deployed units and personnel work with our international partners. The success of all of these ventures was furthered by the established trust between the two commanding officers.

Mexican Navy vessel Baja California transits in front of Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba as both ships make their way to Rio de Janeiro for the second port call of UNITAS. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stuart Phillips.

Mexican Navy vessel Baja California transits in front of Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba as both ships make their way to Rio de Janeiro for the second port call of UNITAS. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stuart Phillips.

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