United States Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt delivered remarks praising the defense relationship between his country and Athens during a visit of U.S Coast Guard (USCG) vessels to Piraeus on Tuesday.
In his speech, Pyatt heaped praise on the strength of U.S-Greece defense cooperation at sea, as recent exercises between the USCG and the Hellenic Coast Guard demonstrate. Pyatt added that these maneuvers also show how important the nations’ bilateral relationship has become in recent years.
“Our maritime relationship has important implications for both national security and economic prosperity,” Pyatt said at his visit to the port.
In the spirit of the USCG’s visit to Piraeus, Pyatt praised the work of the Hellenic Coast Guard in the area of search and rescue as well as law enforcement operations. Only one day prior, Greek authorities had seized a ship carrying 46 kg (101 pounds) of cocaine in Corinth, using intelligence from the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Pyatt said that the collaboration with Greece is multi-layered and is developing across agencies. He called all of these entities “terrific partners” to work with for the U.S authorities.
The Hellenic Coast Guard is a particularly effective member of the USCG’s global search and rescue program, known by the acronym AMVER. Under this initiative, ships are tracked globally to pinpoint which are in distress and in need of assistance.
Pyatt said the Hellenic Coast Guard’s contribution to the program has been second to none.
“For two years in a row, Greece has distinguished itself as the first country to earn more than 2,000 AMVER Awards,” Pyatt said. “The rescue operations that these Greek ships perform every year are truly inspiring.”
More evidence of a maturing defense relationship
In his remarks, the American ambassador took the opportunity to speak about the development of the growing defense relationship.
In recent years, the U.S and Greece have seen their partnership mature significantly in the region. On this note, Pyatt said that their upgraded Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) and new U.S military sales to the Greek military are important parts of this growth.
The MDCA, updated in January 2020, improves access for the United States Navy in Souda Bay on Crete. Just last month, the imposing USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier visited the complex at Souda Bay and even received a visit from Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Greece also recently hosted a multinational military exercise called “Iniochos” that included forces from the US, among others.
It was also recently announced that Greece would be receiving anti-submarine sonars from the U.S Navy that would be fitted on MH-60 helicopters. Pyatt also previously spoke of warship co-production on the Greek island of Syros.
During the Eisenhower’s visit, Pyatt described Souda as the “crown jewel” of U.S-Greece cooperation. He spoke to the strong signal these visits, agreements, and investments sends regarding the strength of the two allies’ partnership.
“The United States sees Greece as a long-term strategic partner in this region, and these engagements between our forces send a powerful message that our countries are truly united as friends and NATO Allies,” Pyatt stated.