PANAMA CITY, Panama - The guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) arrived in Panama City, Panama, for the start of PANAMAX 2011, a multinational exercise focusing on the defense of the Panama Canal, Aug. 13.
Thach will participate with forces from 17 nations in live and simulated scenarios conducted in the region surrounding Panama, including visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), littoral operations, counterdrug interdictions and simulated riverine operations.
"During PANAMAX, Thach will operate as part of the Pacific Task Force, a multinational force that will provide maritime domain awareness in the Pacific approaches to the Panama Canal," said Cmdr. Jeff Scudder, Thach commanding officer. "Maintaining awareness of the maritime commons and the VBSS missions will ensure the exercise's opposing forces are not able to threaten the Panama Canal."
While in port, Thach Sailors will participate in series of training briefs and demonstrations, a sports competition day with international forces and a project to build relations with the local community.
"The in-port time provides a chance to bring mariners of different navies together meet face-to-face to plan and learn from each other before the at-sea phase begins," said Scudder. "Thach Sailors will also have the opportunity to experience the local culture and to work alongside the international navies during a community relations project at a nearby school."
PANAMAX 2011 officially began Aug. 15 and runs until Aug. 25. The Pacific Task Force, which includes Thach and navy ships from Canada, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, will work together at sea during the two-week exercise.
"The collective defense of the Panama Canal, exercised during PANAMAX, fosters collaboration and interoperability among partner navies and builds trust among the partner nations, which directly contributes to regional security," said Scudder.
PANAMAX 2011 is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, one of the most strategically and economically crucial pieces of infrastructure in the world. The exercise includes 3,500 personnel and 22 vessels from 17 nations and is conducted off the coasts of Panama and in U.S. locations.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint 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.