Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Naval forces from the United States and eight Latin American countries will conduct operations in the Pacific Ocean near Ecuador as part of the UNITAS LXI exercise that began this week.
This year's exercise includes forces from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay and will include 13 warships.
The exercise began Monday and continues through Nov. 11.
UNITAS, whose name is the Latin word for "unity," was conceived in 1959 and executed for the first time 1960, making this year's iteration the 61st -- and UNITAS the longest-running annual multinational naval exercise.
"UNITAS is designed to train each navy to conduct joint naval operations through the execution of littoral warfare, maritime interdiction operations, countering transnational organized crime, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, communications exercises, and air and amphibious operations in order to increase interoperability and capability between participating naval and marine forces," said a Navy press release.
Participating U.S. vessels include the USS Gabrielle Giffords, USNS Burlington, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 Detachment 9, Patrol Squadron 9, Patrol Squadron 26, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare and the U.S. Army Vessel Chickahominy.
U.S. Air Force Aircraft and staff members from Destroyer Squadron 40, U.S Marine Corps Forces South and U.S. 4th Fleet will also participate in the exercise.