The Indonesia phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) began at Surabaya Naval Base July 11, with leaders from the Indonesian and United States navies agreeing on the continuing need for mutual cooperation and interoperability.
More than 2,000 participants from both countries will train together during the next week in a variety of scenarios, including visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) demonstrations, amphibious operations, diving and salvage, and small craft force protection tactics.
“The closer cooperation and friendship between our two navies and the stronger friendly relations between our two nations, as well, will give a great benefit and contribution to the international effort to increase the prosperity of people in a peaceful world,” said Rear Adm. Waldi Murad, commander of the Indonesian Eastern Fleet Command, during his opening ceremony remarks.
Rear Adm. William R. Burke, commander of Task Force 73 and the exercise’s executive agent, said CARAT presents an opportunity for both navies to build understanding that can prove useful in a variety of scenarios, from maritime interdiction to rescue at sea.
“With multinational responses to regional contingencies such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief becoming more common, we owe it to ourselves to work together routinely in a realistic training environment such as CARAT,” Burke said. “Exposure to each other's operating procedures - and our mutual ability to communicate and comprehend those procedures - is the key to efficient combined operations.”
In addition to the in-port and at-sea training events, exercise participants from both the U.S. and Indonesia will work together in a series of community service projects, as well as medical, dental, veterinary and engineering civic action projects.
“These projects, which range from providing free medical and dental care, to infrastructure and school improvements, allow the U.S. Navy to show its appreciation for being welcomed here,” Burke said.
The CARAT task group taking part in the Indonesia phase of CARAT under the leadership of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 1 Capt. Al Collins, is made up of the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37), Coast Guard high endurance cutter USCGC Sherman (WHEC 720), and the rescue and salvage ship USS Salvor (ARS 52).
The first U.S. ships from the CARAT task group to arrive in Surabaya were Crommelin and Sherman. A troupe of Indonesian dancers, musicians and acrobats in colorful traditional costume gave the ship a traditional Indonesian welcome.
“The Indonesian navy has welcomed us with open arms by sharing their culture with us,” Collins said, as he was lifted up onto a peacock-feathered seat of honor.
Murad welcomed the opportunity for Indonesian sailors to continue building relationships with their U.S. Navy counterparts.
“Both navies have a long, strong bond of friendship since many years ago,” Murad said. “Hopefully, this relation will grow stronger and continue ever after.”
CARAT is an annual series of bilateral maritime training exercises between the United States and six Southeast Asia nations designed to build relationships and enhance the operational readiness of the participating forces. Indonesia is the third phase of the summer-long exercise series.
Indonesian ships KRI Karel Satsuitubin (356), KRI Fatahilah (361), KRI Nala (363) and KRI Hiu (804) are scheduled to take part in the exercise.
Other U.S. participants include Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1, a U.S. Marine training team from 3rd Marine Division, a detachment from Mobile Security Squadron 7, Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 37, Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 and U.S. Army veterinarians.
Previous phases of CARAT 2006 have taken place in Singapore and Thailand. The series will continue through August, with exercises in Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines to follow.
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Brannon, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs