Canada participates in Panamax 2010 with U.S. 4th Fleet

Remilitarization of the Panama Canal: U.S. leads 18-nation war exercise, including two warships from Canada, against ‘liberation brigade

By Timothy J. Gibbons, Florida Times-Union

(August 25, 2010) – FOR A ragtag sort of group, the Brigada de los Martis de la Liberacion seemed to have a decent amount of assets at its disposal.

Over the past few days, sailors at Mayport Naval Station have been working to contain the BML, which has been utilizing small boats, rocket launchers, bales of cocaine and satchels of money.

One saving grace: The group is fictitious.

The BML is the simulated enemy in Panamax 2010, one of the world’s largest multinational training exercises in which 18 countries come together to defend the Panama Canal.

More than 2,000 personnel are involved in the exercise, including about 100 sailors from South American and Caribbean countries who are controlling operations from Mayport.

Much of the scenario is playing out in virtual reality, although about 1,400 miles away from Mayport a flotilla of U.S. and foreign vessels and riverine forces are undertaking real-life exercises.

The focus is on the cooperative relationship being forged among the various nations as they spend about a fortnight handling various scenarios. ….

“If they’re confident ships can transit the canal, that’s good,” said Rear Adm. Vic Guillory, commanding officer of the Mayport-based 4th Fleet, which is heading up the maritime response to the situation. “Operations cannot be interrupted by the threat.” ….

Cmdr. Brian Falke…is overseeing the search for mines in the waters around the canal, utilizing five U.S. and two Canadian ships. (The BML has dropped several suspicious items in the water, including huge metal drums and, oddly, a gas grill, but so far no mines.) ….

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Filed under Atlantic Gateway / Atlantica, Caribbean

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