The 60th edition of the UNITAS LX annual multinational maritime exercise has commenced off the coast of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Hosted by the Brazilian Navy, UNITAS LX (60) will involve more than 3,100 naval troops from 13 nations.

Participating navies are from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, the UK and the US.

The forces will focus on demonstrating regional maritime cooperation in a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) response scenario, with the aim being to showcase their ability to build a multinational maritime task force.

The exercise will involve both Atlantic and Amphibious phases and will run until 30 August.

The US Navy’s Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) is participating in UNITAS.

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Speaking to the troops at the opening ceremony, US Southern Command commander Admiral Greg Faller said: “Trust is the building block of our ability to work together as a team. When I look at you, when I see the ships, the staffs, I know you are professionals that represent democracies that fight for freedom.”

The objective of the multinational exercise is to train navy and marine corps to conduct joint operations. The maritime exercise is designed to enhance security cooperation and increase interoperability among partner countries.

This year’s exercise will involve 14 surface vessels, eight helicopters, five fixed-wing aircraft, and one submarine.

In July this year, 13 nations completed the Pacific phase of UNITAS multinational maritime exercise.

The exercise was hosted by Chile and involved the participation of ten warships and eight aircraft.