US Navy’s Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) departed Virginia in late June to start the Southern Seas 2018 deployment which will see the ship and its crew operate in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The ship got underway from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia on June 18, embarking the Destroyer Squadron Four Zero (DESRON 40) on July 1.
Gunston Hall is hosting a multinational staff consisting of representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and the United States throughout the deployment. The team will focus on operating in a multinational environment, while ready to deal with unconventional threats such as illicit trafficking, improving training levels in a variety of mission areas, and responding to humanitarian crises.
“This deployment provides a unique opportunity for US and partner nations to increase our interoperability by working together as a multi-national staff for a prolonged period of time,” said DESRON 40 Commodore Capt. Brian Diebold. “The multi-national staff will execute a variety of missions over the coming months that will include integrating and conducting operations with the US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard and 13 partner nations.”
Gunston Hall will make a variety of port visits designed to promote goodwill and friendship with nations in the region.
Formerly known as the Partnership of the Americas deployment, Southern Seas gives a distinct name to one of the United States’ marquee deployments.
This will be the first deployment for Gunston Hall since 2014. Gunston Hall was commissioned April 22, 1989 and has been involved in numerous deployments to USSOUTHCOM in her 29 years of service to the fleet.