Warships from a half-dozen countries will visit Key West Sept. 18-19 with vessels and crews hailing from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United Kingdom as well as United States.
It's part of the U.S. Navy's UNITAS exercise, a long-running joint naval exercise designed to prepare participating nations in cooperative response to a variety of situations, both military and humanitarian.
UNITAS, Latin for "unity," has been hosted in other ports and other nations in the past. This year, the 53rd UNITAS exercises will take place off the coast of the Southernmost City.
"Hosting this many ships at once at Naval Air Station Key West is truly an exciting opportunity-something Key West hasn't seen at Truman Waterfront since the naval station was decommissioned in the 1970s," says NAS Commanding Officer Capt. Patrick Lefere.
Key City boasts a rich seafaring heritage, which includes home to pirates, salvors, Civil War blockades, the rum trade and more. Key West Harbor has the second largest protected anchorage in the western Caribbean, second to Havana Harbor.
UNITAS will last two weeks and include vessels from both North, Central and South American nations, including Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, which has a long history in the area including Bermuda's rich maritime history.
Naval Air State Key West spokeswoman Trice Denny says the public is welcome to tour ships at the Navy's Mole Pier on the Truman Waterfront from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 18.
The following day, Sept. 19, also between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., is set aside for pre-arranged group tours of no more than 25.
For more information, or to arrange a group tour, call 305-293-2027.