Rio de Janeiro, Sep 22 (EFE).- The sixty-third edition of Operation Unitas, the main naval defense exercise in the Americas and which is led annually by the United States, concluded this Thursday in Brazil after having had for the first time the African military involvement.
The navies of Namibia and Cameroon sent military ships for the maneuvers that were carried out in the last two weeks off the coast of the Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro and Espiritu Santo and in which defense exercises of the American continent were simulated.
The naval exercise that is carried out annually in a different country of America counted in its new edition in Brazil with the participation of 5,500 soldiers, 21 warships -including a submarine- and 21 aircraft from 20 countries.
The maritime exercises, which took place between September 8 and 22, included the participation of the navies of Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, France, Guyana , Jamaica, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay.
The operation had already included the participation of Asian and European countries, but for the first time African countries were invited, chosen specifically because their location on the western coast of the African continent and in the South Atlantic makes them strategic for the defense of Brazil.
“It was the first time that African ships crossed the Atlantic to participate in an exercise on our coast. It is a milestone,” said the commander of the First Division of the Brazilian Navy Fleet, Rear Admiral Marcelo Menezes Cardoso, quoted in a statement.
“The participation of the Namibians and Cameroonians deserves to be highlighted. Not only for the recognized effort to cross the Atlantic but also for the seriousness, professionalism and dedication shown from the planning phase to the execution of the exercises at sea,” he added.
For Sea and War Captain Simon Kombada, commander of the Namibian Navy’s flagship NS Elephant, participation in the exercises was of double importance because it not only raised the crew’s confidence but also improved their ability to participate in joint operations.
Unitas, considered the oldest multinational exercise in the world after being carried out for the first time in 1959, aims to “improve the ability of naval forces to achieve common objectives, conduct joint maritime operations and develop greater interoperability between participants” .
Brazil, as the host country and organizer, participated with 12 vessels in the exercises, including the “Atlántico” Multipurpose Ship-Aerodrome, the “Bahia” Multipurpose Ship-Doca, the “Almirante Sabóia” Tank Landing Ship; three frigates, two ocean patrol vessels, one ocean support vessel and one cargo landing craft.
After Brazil, the country with the most vessels in the exercises was the United States, which brought to the Brazilian coast the destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), the amphibious transport ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and the nuclear-powered submarine Los Angeles USS Albany (SSN 753).
The participating navies jointly carried out surface, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft actions exercises, as well as electronic warfare and maritime interdiction operations.
They also participated in a civilian rescue drill through an amphibious incursion on Itaoca beach, in the state of Espiritu Santo, in which nearly 1,000 soldiers landed, including marines and combat divers. EFE
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