LIMA, May 17 (BERNAMA- NNN-XINHUA) -- A total of 1,000 naval officers from Peru, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and the United States on Wed took part in the launch of the 53rd annual Unitas Multinational naval exercise in the Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Peru, said local military sources.
The 10-day simulation drill spans 240 kilometers between the towns of Callao and Pisco, and includes operations to combat drug trafficking, organised crime and smuggling, and deflect possible military attacks against the region.
"We take part in the exercise to train and be able to fight any common threat to our countries," said Admiral Manuel Vascones, the Peruvian Army's Land Force Commander.
The military official said the annual exercise also includes training for humanitarian assistance and natural disaster emergencies.
It is the fifth time Peru has hosted the naval exercise, which began in 1959.
Peru's armed forces will participate with five small missile carrier warships, one landing vessel, two submarines, and reconnaissance and attack airplanes, while its Air Force takes part with two aircrafts, a light attack plane and a simulator.
The U.S. Navy will take part with the guided-missile carrier USS Underwood (FFG 36), which is 138 meters long, 14 meters wide, and has capacity for 200 crew members, as well as with two twin turboshaft engine Seahawk helicopters.
Mexico has, in turn, brought the Durango PO105 patrol boat, while Colombia has sent the Reliance-class patrol boat Valle del Cauca PO44 and a helicopter.
Chile takes part with the Comandante Toro OPV82 patrol boat and a helicopter. Ecuador takes part as a naval observer only.
In addition to the joint exercise, marines will undertake civic projects, including preventive health campaigns and the installation of a potable water tank in the southern city of Pisco, which was hit by two consecutive strong earthquakes in Aug 2007 that killed 596 people and damaged more than 70,000 homes.