The Panamax 2010 multinational maritime training exercise, which focuses on defending the Panama Canal, began on 16 August.

The exercise involves over 2,000 participants, 24 vessels from 18 countries and units from the 12th Air Force, Arizona, and the US Army.

Participants will test their ground, naval, air and special operator ability to respond to threats in the Panama Canal zone, and major humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in the region.

US Navy Vice Admiral and director of combined joint operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence Daniel P Holloway said the exercise promoted interoperability in a joint coalition environment.

The 12-day combined operation is co-sponsored by the US Southern Command and the Panamanian Government.