Mexican Navy to dock in Baltimore amid goodwill cruise

The Mexican Navy's tall ship, ARM Cuauhtémoc, will stop for a visit in Baltimore April 23, a sign of strengthening ties between U.S. and Mexican armed forces.  

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The visit "reaffirms the ties of friendship, especially for new cadets," said Íñigo Guevara, a senior consultant with defense analyst firm IHS Jane's. 

The Cuauhtémoc will arrive in Baltimore eight days after setting sail from Havana, Cuba, in the early stages of a 205-day tour of North and South America and Europe. 

After Baltimore, the training ship will dock in New London, Conn., to visit the United States Coast Guard Academy before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Pentagon's ties to the Mexican military, traditionally deferential but distant, have grown closer since 2013, when Mexico started to buy military equipment directly from the United States, rather than receiving materiel as foreign aid.

The relationship "goes beyond commercial interests," said Guevara, adding that homologation could facilitate joint operations in the future.

Mexico’s recent purchase of 26 Black Hawk helicopters through the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales program cemented the cross-border collaboration. The helicopters – the first six were delivered in December — will replace aging Russian Mi-17s.

The Mexican Navy's principal mission is more or less equivalent to the U.S. Coast Guard's, as compared to the U.S. Navy's global reach.

Collaboration between the countries' armed forces is currently restricted to humanitarian and day-to-day operations such as drug and human trafficking interdiction, but Guevara did not rule out the possibility of future joint deployments.

This story was updated to reflect a change in the Cuauhtémoc's schedule due to inclement weather.