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USS Harpers Ferry Hosts U.S. Ambassador to Brunei

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Story Number: NNS050811-07
Release Date: 8/11/2005 2:02:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW) Brian P. Biller, USS Harpers Ferry Public Affairs

ABOARD USS HARPERS FERRY, At Sea (NNS) -- U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Gene B. Christy, embarked the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) during the underway phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Brunei Aug. 10.

Christy took advantage of his first experience underway to observe the interoperability between U.S. Sailors and Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

“It’s my first genuine underway,” said Christy, who explained he’d visited many ships in his career and had even been flown out to aircraft carriers, but this was his first time getting underway with a ship.

“It’s been fascinating. I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly,” Christy said of the ship. “It’s a big machine that requires an incredible amount of attention to detail,” he said, adding that he enjoyed seeing Sailors at their jobs and that he admired the professionalism of the crew.

Christy even got an opportunity to ride in a landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) during a tactical free-play exercise between U.S. and Royal Brunei Navy ships in the late-night hours of his one-night stay.

Christy said he enjoyed the opportunity to observe a small part of an exercise and see where it fits into the whole, adding that it was one thing to see blips on a big screen, but he appreciated actually being one of the blips.

One of his most memorable experiences was during deck landing qualifications (DLQ) with the Royal Brunei Air Force.

“I was enormously impressed by the level of cooperation and success that the two militaries enjoyed in doing something that they had never done before,” he said.

Christy pointed out that exercises like DLQs, although commonplace for the United States, are quite a unique and rare experience for the Brunei military, and that the experience and interoperability earned in CARAT exercises are part of what made real-world scenarios like the recent tsunami relief effort in Indonesia such a success.

In addition to DLQs and the tactical free-play exercise, CARAT ships also participated in a drone exercise, with a “Banshee” drone provided by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces launched off of Harpers Ferry’s flight deck during the ambassador’s visit.

CARAT is a regularly scheduled series of bilateral military exercises between the United States and several Southeast Asian nations, designed to enhance interoperability of the respective sea services. The CARAT phase began Aug. 4 with the arrival of the four-ship U.S. Navy CARAT task group.

Harpers Ferry, operates out of Sasebo, Japan, as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet's Forward Deployed Naval Forces and is commanded by Cmdr. Marlin C. Anthony.



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