Reykjavik, Iceland (NNS) -- U.S. Ambassador to Iceland Robert C. Barber and Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) Deputy Commander and Technical Director Dr. William Burnett hosted a reception Tuesday, in Reykjavik, Iceland

The reception took place aboard USNS Henson (T-AGS 63), a Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship technically controlled by the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO).

"Reykjavik has proven to be an excellent location for port visits during our summer survey season in the North Atlantic," stated Burnett. "Over the past several years, survey vessels from NAVOCEANO have become familiar sights in Reykjavik harbor. In fact, Henson and her sister ships have visited Reykjavik over 32 times since 2000."

During this particular port visit, U.S. and Icelandic dignitaries were invited aboard to tour the ship and celebrate the partnership the countries share. Also in attendance were Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command Lt. Gen. William Garrett; Iceland's Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson; U.K. Ambassador Stuart Gill; Cmdr. Jn B. Gunason of the Icelandic coast guard; Norway Ambassador Cecilie Landsver; and U.S. Defense Attache to Iceland Lt. Col. Jeremy C. Saunders.

Iceland shares a long history with the U.S. when it comes to its pristine waters for which the island nation is so well known. Both countries are included in the 12 founding nations that formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance in 1949. This association was strengthened with the signing of the United States-Iceland Defense Treaty of 1951, permitting U.S. personnel to be stationed in Iceland. And in January 1991, the two nations entered a memorandum of understanding, wherein they agreed to cooperate in conducting hydrographic surveys and preparing nautical charts based on the data collected. That was 25 years ago, and the partnership continues to this day.

The accomplishments of NAVOCEANO's survey vessels support both the NATO and U.S.-Iceland defense treaties, and Henson's presence in Reykjavik is evidence of the U.S. commitment to the joint defense of Iceland.

"I had the opportunity to be stationed in this stunning country for over five years," explained NAVOCEANO Commanding Officer Capt. Greg Ireton. "Our countries share many common interests in polar issues, and I hope our joint interests will lead to further engagement in the fields of meteorology, oceanography and ice-forecasting."

Henson is operated by the Military Sealift Command for the Naval Oceanographic Office, a component of the NMOC headquartered at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. It is one of six Pathfinder-class ships with a sea component crew of professional mariners and survey support personnel.

NAVOCEANO, comprised of approximately 800 military, civilian and contractor personnel, uses a variety of platforms including ships, aircraft, satellite sensors, buoys and unmanned underwater vehicles to collect oceanographic and hydrographic data from the world's oceans.