A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion flies above USS Somerset (LPD 25) during a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise off the coast of Peru in November. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Allison Bak)

SAN DIEGO - Sailors and Marines from Littoral Combat Group One (LCG-1) returned home to Naval Base San Diego and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after participating in the International Maritime and Naval Exhibition for South America, known as EXPONAVAL.

Both USS Somerset (LPD 25) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) visited Valparaiso, Chile, to participate in the bicentennial anniversary of the Chilean Navy, and EXPONAVAL, the major naval exhibition for Latin America on the Pacific coast.

"We safely and successfully conducted our mission," said Capt. Ken Coleman, commodore, LCG-1. "I give full credit to our tremendous Sailors and Marines. They demonstrated outstanding readiness, tactical expertise and represented our nation and Navy with great pride and professionalism.”

More than 1,000 Sailors and Marines from the LCG-1 flagship Somerset, embarked Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF)-Peru, and Wayne E. Meyer deployed to South America in order to strengthen relationships and enhance cooperation between partner nations.

While in Valparaiso, Sailors and Marines engaged in community service events and sports competitions with the local community. Somerset also held a reception on board, co-hosted by U.S. 4th Fleet and the U.S. Ambassador to Chile.

Underway, Wayne E. Meyer and embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) from Tactical Law Enforcement Team Pacific conducted a maritime patrol exercise with Ecuadorian navy assets to counter illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

“This exercise allows us to assist our partners in enforcing fisheries laws and protecting the economy in the South Pacific,” said Lt.j.g. Mike Brooks, the deployable team leader of the embarked LEDET. “A large number of states in this area depend on fisheries for food security and export income, and our Navy-Coast Guard team helps preserve both.”

Alongside the Peruvian Naval Infantry, SPMAGTF-Peru conducted a humanitarian assistance, disaster response exercise in Chorrillos, Peru, an area prone to natural disasters. The bilateral group successfully demonstrated their ability to provide water purification, electricity, medical services, heavy equipment to clear roads and highways, and helicopters to reach isolated areas quickly in times of natural disaster.

“There were only a few weeks between the time we received the mission and the time we deployed,” said Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, commanding officer, SPMAGTF-Peru. “Our successful execution on a short notice is a testament to the Marine Corps’ level of readiness and our ability to come together as a Navy-Marine Corps team, rapidly deploy and honor our commitments to our partners and allies.”

Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) Peru, disembark USS Somerset (LPD 25), Dec. 21. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Joseph Prado)

Sailors man the rails aboard USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) during a parade of ships off the coast of Valparaiso, Dec. 2, as part of the Chilean Navy's bicentennial celebration. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Lasheba James)