COMDESRON 23 Completes "Southern Seas 2015"
151117-N-DM308-345 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 17, 2015) The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) leads a formation while participating in UNITAS 2015. UNITAS 2015, the U.S. Navy's longest running annual multinational maritime exercise, is part of the Southern Seas deployment planned by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. This iteration of UNITAS is conducted in two phases: UNITAS PACIFIC, hosted by Chile in October 2015 and UNITAS Atlantic hosted by Brazil in Nov.. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Archer/Released)
COMDESRON 23 Completes "Southern Seas 2015"
ATLANTIC OCEAN - While deployed to U.S. 6th Fleet in support of Southern Seas 2015, Capt. Paul H. Hogue, Commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 and Senior Chief Fire Controlman Joseph Hartwell embarked the Chilean navy flag ship CNS Williams (FF 19) during UNITAS Pacific 2015. 

Hogue served as the liaison between Task Force (CTF) 401 and George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG), who served as Commander Task Group 401.1.  Drawing double duties, 

Hogue mentored the commanding officer of Williams through the important duties of sea combat commander. Williams served as the flag ship for Rear Adm. Alvarez as the task force commander during the exercise off the coast of Chile. 

“The Chileans were great partners and very skilled in maritime operations,” said Hogue.  “I look forward to future operations and exercises to further reinforce our relationship and strengthen the bonds between the U.S. and Chilean forces.”

Over the five-day exercise between the Chilean, Columbian, Mexican navy, and GWCSG , there was an assortment of semi-structured naval exercises, culminating in a two-day free play scenario event, where both U.S. and Chilean forces were divided into opposed factious nations veining for maritime dominance.  

“Williams and her crew are exceptionally professional, proud and motivated sailors,” said Hartwell.  “The ship was meticulously maintained, the pride in her was evident in all they did – from cleanliness to equipment up keep. It was quickly apparent to me how proficient the crew was to conduct a flawless force protection presence as well as a Sea and Anchor detail simultaneously.” 

The exercise concluded with closing ceremonies aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) where naval officials from all countries gathered to discuss lessons learned and exchange sea stories from the days preceding. 

Promoting interoperability and coalition team building continued to be a predominant mission during UNITAS Atlantic.  The emphasis was once again training, combat doctrine, logistics, communications with multinational partners.  The exercise provided an opportunity to apply command warfare concept in a larger scale by allowing partnering countries to execute the warfare commander roles of DESRON 23’s Deputy Commodore, Capt. Thomas R. Williams and Chief Sonar Technician Eric Hemming were selected to support the execution of this advanced-level exercise aboard the Brazilian navy ship BNS Liberal (F 43) .

Liberal served as the flag ship for Rear Adm. Pinto-Homem as task force commander during the exercise off the coast of Brazil.  The goal was to stand-up a multinational Task Force operating under a conventional and an asymmetric threat environment to provide a training environment for surface, submarines, and air defense between the U.S., Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Dominic Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and United Kingdom.

According to Hemming the Liberal crew took great care of their ship and the camaraderie and morale was very high. 

“I enjoyed the culture and food,” said Hemming. “On the final night the Master Chief surprised us by a live performance with musical instruments and signing to celebrate the final day of the exercise. It was a humbling experience and I look forward to working with them again.”

Hogue added, “UNITAS LANT was a great overall planning process and very good execution and was a win by all countries involved.  I enjoyed the great working rapport with all the navies and this event completed a very rewarding deployment.”
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