CARIBBEAN SEA –
The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) and Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel HMJS Alexander Bustamante conducted a bilateral maritime exercise in the Caribbean Sea, Feb. 9, 2022.
During the exercise, Milwaukee utilized an MH-60S helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 5, while Jamaica participated with Alexander Bustamante and a JDF Air Wing Bell 429 helicopter.
Forces practiced a series of tactical shipboard movements called division tactics (DIVTACS), which include precise turns and formations, progressing to “leapfrogs” where the ships are positioned in a straight line and take turns overtaking one another.
They also tested command and control capabilities, providing the opportunity for both navies to improve interoperability and demonstrate their ability to communicate, navigate, and operate together at sea.
“This was a great bilateral training opportunity for our team,” said Cmdr. Brian Forster, commanding officer of Milwaukee. “It was the crew’s first exercise of this deployment working with our partners at sea, and we could not have asked for more professional and capable mariners than those of the Jamaica Defence Force.”
Bilateral engagements afford the opportunity for partner nations to develop a greater trust, understanding and respect for each other’s unique capabilities all while improving crews' knowledge and demonstrating shared tactics. This allows both navies to build capacity for future operations, maintain readiness at sea, and support continued efforts to ensure security and stability.
Milwaukee is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations 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 region.