Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy littoral combat ship USS Freedom held passing exercises with counterparts from the navies of El Salvador and Guatemala, the 4th Fleet said on Friday.
The PASSEX exercise, which ensures that navies can communicate and cooperate in times of war or humanitarian relief, includes semaphore drills and flaghoist drills, as well as electronic and digital cooperation including use of electronic communications.
PASSEX was conducted in the eastern Pacific Ocean on Jan. 21.
The USS Freedom, an element of the U. S. Southern Command, is deployed to support Joint Interagency Task Force South's mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, according to the 4th Fleet.
"This tri-lateral PASSEX strengthens our tactical readiness and practices operational command and control while signaling strategic commitments to our partners throughout the region," Cmdr. Larry Repass, commanding officer of the USS Freedom, said in a press release.
The exercise came a week after Navy Adm. Craig Faller, the SOUTHCOM commander, told a virtual symposium of the Surface Navy Association that his command is employing two key concepts of the U.S. National Defense Strategy, partnerships and expansion of the competitive space in all domains.
Faller said at the symposium that those efforts include training and education with partner nations.
Among the specific work is security cooperation, fighting transnational criminal organizations, stopping illegal fishing, exercises, personnel exchanges, planning and intelligence sharing and having a military presence there to assist and reassure.