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Brunei Phase of CARAT Exercise Series Begins

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050805-07
Release Date: 8/5/2005 12:45:00 PM

By Chief Journalist Melinda Larson, Destroyer Squadron 1 Public Affairs

MAURA, Brunei Darussalam (NNS) -- The Brunei phase of the exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series began Aug. 5 with an opening ceremony aboard USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). Guests included U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Gene Christy, Col. Joharie bin Hj Metussin, commander of the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN), and commanding officers of the combined task force ships.

CARAT is an annual bilateral series of military training exercises with several Southeast Asian nations intended to bolster interoperability of the participating forces in a variety of mission areas. Brunei is the fifth phase of the 2005 series, following Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Commander of Destroyer Squadron 1, Capt. Buzz Little, who leads the task group from aboard Harpers Ferry, opened the ceremony with a pictorial look back at CARAT Brunei 2004 events followed by a glimpse of the week ahead.

"Having a common set of procedures and good communications is key to combined operations," Little said. "Together we can enhance our maritime interdiction capabilities by mutually fine tuning aspects of CARAT to changing world events."

After the CARAT 2004 review and the 2005 preview, Rear Adm. Kevin M. Quinn, commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific, who is responsible for overall CARAT coordination for U.S. participants in his executive agent role as commander, Task Force 712, said staging the opening ceremony aboard Harpers Ferry was fitting.

"It's most appropriate that we're conducting a shipboard opening ceremony," said Quinn. "Kicking it off here on board Harpers Ferry sets the right tone for the important week ahead."

A diverse range of both pierside and at-sea events are planned during the weeklong exercise to further develop skills of mutual benefit such as maritime interdiction. In order to protect freedom of the seas, it's critical for nations to combine their efforts to combat seaborne terrorism threats and transnational crimes at sea, Quinn said.

"We are aware of the many maritime threats that exist in this region and around the world," said Quinn. "This year's edition of CARAT gives our two navies an opportunity to practice some critical skills that can be applied to tackling those threats."

Those skills will be practiced in the form of visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) events. Combined teams will board CARAT task group ships both pierside and at sea to go through the paces of boarding and searching rogue ships. The combined team concept helps the VBSS teams learn about experiences, tactics and techniques.

"That interaction is one of the most important aspects of CARAT," Quinn said. "The only way two navies can operate together efficiently at sea is through a common set of procedures and through good communications."

Good communications will be practiced via the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS), which allows for combined situational awareness and information sharing between the two navies.

The two navies will also share diving and salvage techniques through a series of dives from aboard the rescue and salvage ship USS Salvor (ARS 50).

During the at-sea phase, a Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) drone detachment will launch its unmanned flying Banshee from Harpers Ferry. The firing will test the aerial anti-air warfare gunnery proficiency and warship interoperability of both navies.

For the first time during CARAT Brunei, there will be a bilateral intelligence officer exchange. Operational planning, command and control, tactics, and logistics support are other training pieces of the exercise.

"There is always something new to learn and gain from each other," noted bin Hj Matussin. "Brunei has a small defense force, and the nature of our defense are also reliant on the security and political cooperation regionally and also globally."

A community service project and a combined sports day will allow the officers and Sailors of both navies to interact on a personal level.

"CARAT allows us to develop professional relationships and personal friendships along the way," said Quinn. "The scheduled community service project is just one way our Sailors can develop some new and meaningful friendships, and is a means for saying thank you to the people of Brunei for their hospitality."

In addition to Harpers Ferry , the U.S. CARAT task group is made up of the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), the frigate USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60), and the rescue and salvage ship USS Safeguard (ARS 50). Other elements include P-3C Orion and SH-60 Seahawk aircraft. A U.S. Coast Guard maritime law enforcement training team will also take part in CARAT.

The RBN task group is comprised of the Waspada-class fast attack craft KDB Pejuang (PCFG 03) and KDB Seteria (PCFG 04), and the Perwira-class coastal patrol craft KDB Perwira (PC 14) and KDB Penyerang (PC 16).

Little's staff is based in San Diego. Paul Hamilton is home ported in Pearl Harbor and Rodney M. Davis in Everett, Wash. Harpers Ferry and Safeguard are forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan.

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