US Guided-Missile Destroyer Hosts Brazilian and Mexican Navy Sailors


The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) hosted seven Brazilian and Mexican navy sailors during the Atlantic (LANT) phase of UNITAS 52, April 23.

UNITAS 52 LANT is a three-week exercise running from April 15 to May 9 and includes navies from Brazil, United States, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Peru. The partner nations have exchanged sailors, both officer and enlisted, on several ships during the exercise.

The international sailors are aboard Nitze for seven days and worked throughout the ship in different departments, to include supply, deck, damage control and operations.

“I came aboard to be a part of the U.S. Navy staff and help however I can,” said Lt. Felipe Sasaki, Brazilian navy. “Primarily, I help with communications between the staff here and the Brazilian staff on the other ships. I’ve enjoyed getting to know your ship and learning how your Navy operates.”

The liaison officers were called to the bridge several times a day to help with tactical communication between partner navies.

“One of the main reasons we do exercises of this type is to form an international staff, an international team, in order to foster the trust and teamwork required to accomplish any mission in an international environment,” said Capt. Marc Weeks, commander task group 138.0. “Having liaison officers embedded on the ship or in your staff acts an intermediary to smooth language barriers and removes other communication barriers that exist to ensure the of flow of information.”

The exercise not only focused on improving interoperability and communications between the ships, but it also provided the opportunity for U.S. Sailors and Latin American navies to build relationships first-hand. The relationships that develop from this exercise will help foster cooperation and understanding between participating countries.

2nd Class Sergeant Domingo Garcia of the Mexican navy was assigned to the deck department and he said he enjoyed working with the U.S. Sailors.

“The ship is very new and modern and the organization of the people aboard the ship is very good,” said Garcia.

Each of the visiting sailors was assigned a ‘running mate’ who spoke either Portuguese or Spanish. The running mates provided information and helped the sailors find their way around.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun with this because I’m of the few Americans of Mexican heritage on the ship who is fluent in Spanish and I’m getting to use my native tongue to speak to the Mexican sailors,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Sergio Torres. “The similarities we share creates a unity between us and our navies.”

“It’s incredibly important to have these officers and sailors aboard. It increases our interoperability, it drastically improves our understanding, and it clearly bridges that information gap,” said Weeks.

UNITAS, Latin for “unity“, is a combined South American and U.S.-sponsored annual exercise series. Active participants for the Atlantic phase, running April 15-May 9, includes Brazil, the U.S., Argentina and Mexico. The U.S. Coast Guard is also participating.

Each step the countries take towards operating together reinforces the value of the previous and future UNITAS exercises.

COMUSNAVSO/C4F supports U.S. Southern Command and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

By Steve Smith (navy)
Source: navy, April 27, 2011;