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USS Wasp Supports FA PANAMAX with Boarding Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070903-05
Release Date: 9/3/2007 8:47:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew McCord, USS Wasp Public Affairs

USS WASP, At Sea (NNS) -- The U.S. and French navies teamed-up Sept. 2 to hone ship boarding skills and enhance interoperability, while participating in the multi-national Exercise Fuerzas Alidas (FA) PANAMAX 2007, off the coast of Panama in the Caribbean.

A team of French Sailors practiced their boarding skills while rappelling from a U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Det. 4, onto the flight deck of the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1).

According to a French Navy liaison officer on board Wasp for the exercise, combining forces during training exercises offers different points of view, and allows for an improved training environment. "The training was organized so a French boarding team could integrate with a U.S. helicopter, to fast-rope onto a [simulated] suspect vessel," he said. "This is a necessary part of force integration, and [the evolution] went very well."

France and the United States are two of 19 countries participating in PANAMAX 2007, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, joint and multi-national training exercise focused on ensuring the security of the Panama Canal. Working together and participating in a variety of drills, the ultimate goal is to enable a multi-national force to respond to a request from the Government of Panama to protect the Canal.

Other participating countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay, with observers from, El Salvador, Mexico and Paraguay. This is the first time the French have participated in a PANAMAX exercise since its inception in 2003, though there were observers for the event in 2005.

"This exercise allows us to work toward the capability of boarding ships that could be of interest," said Argentine Navy Captain Orlando Delmiro Miguel, PANAMAX 2007 Maritime Interdiction Operations commander. "It offers a wide spectrum of gains, especially the fact that people are training together and improving their ability to respond to a variety of situations. We're looking for conformity within the tactical, technical and professional elements."

The participants of PANAMAX 2007 have deployed 30 vessels, 12 aircraft, and more than 7,500 personnel.

For more information on PANAMAX 2007, go to .

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