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USS New Orleans Coming Home to San Diego

USS New Orleans, along with Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, and other embarked units, will return to their home port here in San Diego tomorrow, Sept. 2, after completing a three-month independent deployment in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a Navy spokesman.

The mission's primary goal was information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region in order to enhance regional maritime capabilities and security.

Throughout the deployment, New Orleans conducted exercises and multinational exchanges with Mexico, Peru, and Colombia. The ship also conducted humanitarian and civic assistance through community relations projects throughout the region.

"This has been an outstanding deployment and mission," New Orleans Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jeff Oakey said in a statement released by the Navy. "The interaction we've had with Mexico, and Central and South America, has really helped us to understand and appreciate one another. Whether we were trading professional information, working on a community relations project together, or just experiencing the culture of each other's countries, we were strengthening the relationships we have with each other. I really think that the relationships we're creating will make the region stronger and more stable."

Service members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay deployed with New Orleans in order to facilitate interaction between their navies and the U.S. Navy. They boarded the ship in San Diego on June 10, with most departing in Peru. The Colombian officers remained aboard until the ship visited Bahia Malaga, Colombia.

"I think this is one of the best ideas our commanders have had," said Colombian navy Lt. Cmdr. Luis Pulgarin in a statement released b y the Navy. "It is so important that the U.S. and South American navies work together because it is one region . America . and we need to be able to share experiences and work together, because it will help us all to stay secure. At this moment, the United States and Colombia are both combating terrorism, and we need to work together. It is very important."