Story Number: NNS140810-02Release Date: 8/10/2014 9:11:00 AM
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs
MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Members of partner navies visited USS New York (LPD 21) Aug. 7, 8 and 9, on Naval Station Mayport while participating in PANAMAX 2014, an exercise aimed at developing strong working relationships between multinational forces to ensure the defense of the Panama Canal.
The exercise, which is scheduled to run through Aug. 15, includes participants from 15 nations: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and the United States.
Many of participants had never been aboard a U.S. Navy warship, let alone an amphibious transport dock ship.
"I like the fact that the ship was built in remembrance of those who died on 9-11," said Capt. Dennis Azmitia of the El Salvadoran navy, who is serving as an operations officer for the exercise. "There is great honor to serve on this ship."
Azmitia said serving alongside Americans is a privilege because of their moral conviction.
"I admire U.S. armed forces," he said. "There is always a reason for what you do."
Capt. Marcela Vergara of Chile, who is serving in the legal cell for the exercise, said she was amazed to see that USS New York was built with steel from the original World Trade Center in New York City.
"Who would have ever thought to make a memorial out of a warship to remember those who lost (their lives)," Vergara said. "This has truly been the best part of the visit. The U.S. Navy has been very hospitable to us by opening their arms and allowing us to feel at home even though we are far away from our loved ones."
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, the exercise host, supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.