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NNS021001-01 Coalition Partners Guard Strategic Trade Route

Release Date: 10/1/2002 9:51:00 AM

By Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde, CTF-73 Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Since Sept. 11, 2001, a number of countries around the globe have aided the United States in fighting the global War on Terrorism.

India proved to be a strategic partner when two ships stepped up to safeguard U.S. noncombatant and merchant ships as they transit through the Strait of Malacca.

"Indian naval ships have demonstrated the highest standards of seamanship and combat readiness while providing safety and security to high value U.S. ships supporting Operation Enduring Freedom," said Rear Adm. William D. Sullivan, on the staff of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii.

Ships in the U.S. Navy's Task Force 73 keep the fleet supplied with food, fuel and spare parts. This Combat Logistics Force, stock the 100 Navy ships - cruisers, destroyers, frigates, aircraft carriers and submarines - that cross through the Western Pacific Region every year.

"This area is important to the United States as a large volume of trade transits through the Strait every year," said Rear Adm. Jeff Cassias, commander, Task Force 73. "This is the crossroads of the world, and a number of our ships go through it."

Earlier this year, INS Sharda took the lead in monitoring safe transits of a variety of U.S. vessels. As noncombatant and merchant ships passed through the area, Sharda followed closely behind, ensuring their safe passages.

"INS Sharda's performance as the first coalition warship conducting the [Strait of Malacca] escort mission was outstanding," said Sullivan.

After a successful three-month operation, Sharda focused on other missions. In July, another Indian ship, INS Sukanya, took the helm, helping the United States protect its assets.

After spending half the year underway as coalition partner in the global War on Terrorism, the Indian crews received special recognition from leaders in the U.S. Navy.

"Extremely responsive to short-notice escorts, Indian ships readily accomplished all missions in an exceptionally professional manner," said Sullivan.

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