By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Alexia M. Riveracorrea, Destroyer Squadron 40 Public Affairs
USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) arrived in Vasco Nunez de Balboa
on Aug. 25 after completing a series of theater security cooperation events with Central American partner nations during Partnership of the Americas (POA) 2007.
While in Panama, Pearl Harbor and other POA units participated in a joint and multinational training Exercise, PANAMAX 2007, tailored to the defense and security of the Panama Canal.
â€œPANAMAX provides realistic training opportunities for forces operating in multinational environments,â€ said Cmdr. Victor Cooper, Pearl Harbor commanding
officer. â€œFrom airborne surveillance and monitoring to maritime interdiction operations and visit, board, search and seizure, the multinational force will be engaged throughout all phases of the training.â€
Sea, ground and air force personnel and observers from 20 countries, including: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay will respond to a variety of simulated events affecting the Panama Canal, the most important waterway in the region.
â€œIt is going to be a very interesting opportunity to see different ships working together during the exercise,â€ said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Michael Malloy. â€œThe cooperation among the participating nations during each event is going to be the key.â€
The multinational forces will be organized under Combined Joint Task Force 138, commanded by Vice Adm. Evan M. Chanik, who is also Commander 2nd Fleet.
The exercise is conducted under the authority of United States Southern Command and coordinated with the Government of Panama in order to promote interoperability, and exercise freedom of navigation, air, space and sea lanes of communication with a multinational force. Maritime forces defending the canal will be commanded by Rear Adm. James W. Stevenson Jr., commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command.
â€œI am very excited that Pearl Harbor is participating in this event,â€ said Engineman Richard Bellinger. â€œIt is my first time doing a PANAMAX exercise and everyone wants to do their best before the completion of POA 2007.â€
POA Task Group 40.0 consists of dock landing ship Pearl Harbor, guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) and the staff of Destroyer Squadron 40, commanded by Capt. Randy Snyder.
POA 2007 is a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command deployment designed to support U.S. Southern Command in its area of responsibility by focusing on enhancing relationships with regional partner nations through a variety of exercises and events at sea and ashore throughout South America and the Caribbean.