What the U.S. Navy says
about their recent Cartagena experience
Note from CartagenaInfo. We had many occasions to speak with crew members of the three U.S. vessels which recently made
an extended port stop here in Cartagena on the Caribbean.
From all accounts, everybody had a safe and fun time while in Cartagena. The people of Cartagena were honored, proud, and
pleased with their visitors spending their time, and efforts in assisting local schools, and bridging good and lasting impressions of
the young men and women of the United States Navy, and U.S.Coast Guard.
What follows is the OFFICIAL NavNews report of The United States Navy account of their joint: Colombia, Chile, France, U.S.
Training Mission, and their experience in Cartagena, Colombia.
“Come back often, we really enjoyed your visit!”
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NNS1805. Navy/Coast Guard Sailors Finish Unitas Exercises in
By Lt. j.g. Corey Barker, NAVSOUTH Public Affairs
CARTAGENA, Colombia (NNS) -- Ten ships from the United
States, Colombia, Chile and France returned to the port city
of Cartagena, Colombia, April 14 after successfully
completing the at-sea portion of Unitas 2001 exercises in
the Western Caribbean Sea. Approximately 2,000 Sailors and
coastguardsmen participated in the 42nd annual exercise,
which began April 2 and concluded in Cartagena, Colombia on
Hosted this year by the Colombian navy, the Caribbean
phase of Unitas 2001 focused on high-tech surface, air and
undersea naval training exercises designed to strengthen
multinational cooperation and interoperability in support of
the U.S. policy of engagement in South America. These
exercises presented a unique opportunity to improve the high
level of operational readiness and teamwork enjoyed by the
United States and South American naval forces.
Rear Adm. Kevin P. Green, commander, U.S. Naval Forces
Southern Command, commanded the Unitas Task Force.
Headquartered at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico,
Green is the naval component commander to Marine Corps Gen.
Peter Pace, commander in chief, U.S. Southern Command
(SOUTHCOM) based in Miami, Fla.
The Mayport-based destroyer USS O'Bannon (DD 987)
commanded by Cmdr. Bruce W. Nichols, acted as U.S. flagship
with embarked commander, Destroyer Squadron 6, Commodore
(Capt.) Bill Marlowe and staff.
The U.S. Caribbean Phase Task Group also included the
Norfolk-based guided missile frigate USS Estocin (FFG 15)
and U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCG Northland (WMEC 904)
homeported in Portsmouth, Va.
Northland, commanded by Cmdr. Bret K. McGough, played a
significant role in Unitas as the expert in counter-drug,
maritime interdiction and rescue assistance training,
working directly with the Colombian coast guard and navy
exchanging theories, ideas and time proven procedures.
U.S. Navy P-3C Orion patrol aircraft from Patrol
Squadrons (VP) 5 and 11, based in Jacksonville, Fla.,
participated extensively in the exercises, as did Helicopter
Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 46, Detachment 6, based, in
In addition to a rigorous training schedule, U.S.
Sailors and coast guard personnel participated in community
relations projects at two local elementary schools with
sailors from the Colombian navy. The schools received
desperately needed repairs and school supplies that were
donated by all three U.S. ships, embarked detachments,
Destroyer Squadron 6 and SOUTHCOM. The crews of the ships
were eager to donate their free time, knowledge and
compassion to make lasting improvements to the quality of
education for local children.
The U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet Show Band, "La Banda
Unitas," performed for more than 7,000 concert goers at
several public and private appearances in Cartagena. The 14-
person band specializing in jazz, swing, funk and rock
performed at the closing ceremony at the Colombian Naval
Club on April 17 along with the 30 musician Colombian Navy
Band. The two bands traded songs in a Battle of the Bands
performance. Rear Adm. Edward Hunter, deputy commander, U.S.
Naval Forces Southern Command, attended the closing ceremony
as the senior U.S. Navy representative.
While in Cartagena, crewmembers visited the historic
Spanish Fortress "Castillo de San Felipe De Barajas," which
majestically stands guard on a hillside overlooking the city
and harbor. Cartagena's best restaurants and clubs were
discovered by Sailors inside the famous "walled city" in the
historic district along the north beach and inner harbor.
Open-air cafes and shops line numerous plazas facing
Spanish-style cathedrals, monasteries and museums built in
the late 1600s.
Two of the popular souvenirs sought out by Sailors
visiting Cartagena were the famous deep green emeralds and
strong Colombian coffee, well known throughout the world.
During a brief port visit to the secluded islands of
Providencia and San Andres, Unitas Sailors had the
opportunity to go exploring, swimming, or enjoy the warm
sunshine and white sandy beaches.
Through well-planned and well-executed training
exercises, the Caribbean Phase of Unitas 2001 proved to
strengthen the ability of naval forces to operate together
as an effective multinational force. Training symposiums,
crew exchanges, band concerts and community relations
projects presented opportunities for U.S. Sailors and
coastguardsmen to meet new people, visit new places and
experience rich new cultures. They also presented an
occasion for the people of Colombia to better know the men
and women of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and the nation.