The US Navy’s most modern tactical aircraft carrier made port on its maiden voyage in Colombia’s Caribbean as part of a Latin American tour to strengthen ties with countries in the region, according to the Ministry of Defense.
In a symbolic gesture of cooperation between the US and Colombia, the USS America carrying 1,500 crew members will be conducting joint training exercises with Colombia’s Navy in the Caribbean port city of Cartagena.
According to Colombia’s Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon, maritime security exercises and naval operations will be performed, where both nations will share tactics and strategies.
“Before, we were a nation seeking support and assistance; we were just receivers,” said Pinzon, adding, “today, we work closely with countries like the United States to continue on the path of prosperity. We have knowledge and acquired experiences in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, and other criminal expressions that we [can] share that are of course valuable; making this visit is what strengthens ties.”
Along with Pinzon, also present on board the LHA-6 class warship were the US ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker; commander of the US Southern Command, General John F. Kelly; commander of the Colombian Navy, Admiral Hernando Wills; and commander of Colombia’s Armed Forces, General Juan Pablo Rodriguez.
The USS America is the first ship of its class, designated as the “next generation ‘big-deck’ amphibious assault ship,” according to the US Navy.
Weighing 45 thousand tons and costing $2.6 billion, the ship is designed to carry attack aircraft and helicopters for heavy transport, assault, and rescue, according to Colombia’s El Universal newspaper.