U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT) began Southern Partnership Station-Expeditionary Fast Transport 2017 (SPS-EPF 17) by deploying USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1), Saturday, to Central and South America from July to late October 2017.
Southern Partnership Station is an annual series of U.S. Navy deployments focused on exchanges with regional partner nation militaries and security forces. This year’s deployments will visit Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, and Colombia.
SPS-EPF 17 is a U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) directed operation planned by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command /U.S. 4th Fleet and carried out by deployed adaptive force packages (AFPs) under the direction of the Destroyer Squadron 40 staff.
The AFPs are comprised of military personnel from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), Expeditionary Combat Camera (ECC), Naval Construction Group (NCG) TWO, Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) ONE, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) ONE, Commander Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 40, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), and U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC).
Making this deployment possible is Spearhead, the first of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport vessels, which are crewed and operated by civil service mariners, and serves as a platform for embarked military detachments to include AFPs.
AFPs are specialized teams of U.S. service members from the fields of engineering, force protection and medical. They will deploy onboard Spearhead in support of SPS-EPF 17 to collaborate with each participating host nation in Central and South America’s partner nation military forces through naval-focused training exercises, military-to-military engagements, and community relations projects.
SPS-EPF 17 will focus on enhancing cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services and improving operational readiness for all participants. In addition, the mission will provide the opportunity for U.S. and partner nation forces to operate in a multinational environment, refine coordination, improve interoperability, and demonstrate flexibility.
For the first time, the AFPs will conduct well drilling operations in remote locations in Guatemala and Honduras. These wells will provide drinking water for local populations coupled with preventative medicine subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) focused on preventative medicine, mosquito prevention and control, and safe water sanitation practices to improve quality of life for host nation citizens.
USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT supports USSOUTHCOM’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 regions.