Freedom Sets Sail for CARAT Malaysia 2013

By Task Force 73 Public Affairs

SINGAPORE — The Navy’s first littoral combat ship, USS Freedom (LCS 1), departed Changi Naval Base June 11 to participate in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Malaysia 2013.

CARAT Malaysia is among the ke130611-N-QD718-001y maritime exercises and exchanges Freedom will conduct with regional navies and U.S. 7th Fleet units while deployed to Southeast Asia.  In May, Freedom participated in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX) and the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Western Pacific Multilateral Sea Exercise (WMSX).  In the coming months, Freedom will participate in additional phases of CARAT and in exercise Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT).

Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander, Task Force 73 and U.S. Naval Forces for CARAT, said Freedom is a good fit with many navies in Southeast Asia that operate comparable-sized ships.

“The opportunity to work side-by-side and interact with regional navies in exercises like CARAT is in large part why Freedom was deployed to Southeast Asia,” said Carney.

Carney noted that several training events during CARAT Malaysia would demonstrate Freedom’s speed, shallow draft and surface warfare mission package.  These events include a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) scenario, a surface gunnery exercise, and shipboard helicopter operations with Freedom’s embarked MH-60R Seahawk.

“The crew cannot wait to work with our partners in the Royal Malaysian Navy and demonstrate what this ship was designed to do in the littorals,” said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, commanding officer, USS Freedom.

CARAT is an annual naval exercise series between the United States and the armed forces of nine partner nations: Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.  The 2013 series began with CARAT Indonesia in May, followed by CARAT Thailand in June, and continues through the Fall.

More than 1,200 Sailors and Marines are participating in CARAT Malaysia. Additional U.S. Navy ships participating in the exercise include the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) with embarked U.S. Marine Corps landing force, the diving and salvage vessel USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) with embarked Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, and the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54).

Though each phase of CARAT is tailored with participating forces and focused training goals, all phases address shared maritime security concerns, build maritime relationships and enhance interoperability.

Prior to departing for CARAT Malaysia, Freedom completed a long-scheduled maintenance availability – known as a Readiness Assist Visit 1 (RAV 1) – and also completed some repairs to the lube oil system during this period in response to problems identified in April.

“The Navy expected challenges associated with deploying a first-of-class ship on a maiden overseas deployment,” said Carney.  “We have significant experience supporting 7th Fleet ships and have the right combination of technical assistance, maintenance and logistics support in theater to sustain Freedom while deployed to Southeast Asia.”

Fast, agile and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surfaces warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. Her “Gold” crew of 91 Sailors includes mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate the MH-60 helicopter.

Throughout Freedom’s rotational deployment to Southeast Asia, which began March 1, the ship will remain homeported in San Diego.  Midway through the deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with Freedom’s “Blue” crew.

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19th CARAT Thailand Commences to Address Shared Maritime Security Priorities

SATTAHIP, Thailand – The 19th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Thai Navy and Royal Thai Marine Corps began June 2 with opening ceremonies in Sattahip.

CARAT Thailand 2013 brings together U.S.-Thai naval forces to conduct a series of shore-based and at sea training events designed to refine longstanding relationships, enhance interoperability and address mutual interests.

The Royal Thai Navy and Royal Thai Marine Corps have participated in CARAT since the exercise began in 1995. CARAT is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Training in each CARAT phase is tailored to meet shared priorities across a broad range of naval capabilities. CARAT Thailand 2013 will focus on combined operations at sea, amphibious landing events and highly realistic humanitarian assistance, disaster response scenarios. For the first time this year, U.S. Navy and RTN ships will transfer fuel during an underway replenishment at sea. The HADR scenario will feature a combined response to a simulated earthquake and tsunami involving engineers, salvage experts and civilian first responders.

“It is a pleasure to work side-by-side with our long-standing friends in the Royal Thai Navy and Royal Thai Marine Corps,” said Rear Adm. William McQuilkin, Commander, Naval Forces Korea and executive agent for CARAT Thailand 2013. “This year’s schedule reflects the evolving complexity of the past 19 years that our forces have participated in CARAT Thailand, and I expect our Sailors and Marines to benefit greatly from the upcoming training events.”

Additional skill areas exercised during CARAT Thailand include maritime interdiction operations, air defense, undersea warfare, naval gunnery, riverine, search and rescue, diving and salvage, and medical training. Multiple opportunities to build personal and professional relationships between forces will also occur during military operations symposia, receptions, band concerts and sports events.

More than 1,200 U.S. Sailors, Marines and civilian mariners are participating in CARAT Thailand 2013. U.S. Navy ships include the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) and the diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50). A USMC Landing Force Company is comprised of Marines with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment with an attachment from 2nd Amphibian Assualt Battalion, 2nd Marine Division from Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Also participating in CARAT Thailand are a riverine squadron and medical professionals assigned to Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command (MCAST), Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Five (NMCB5), divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 (MUDSU), trainers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 (EODMU5), P-3C Orion and MH-60 aircraft, and the U.S. Seventh Fleet Band, Orient Express.

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Pacific Partnership Team Hosts Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy Godbee

 

PACIFIC OCEAN – Pacific Partnership 2013 Sailors, non-government organization volunteers and partner nation service members from Australia, Canada, Colombia, and New Zealand celebrated Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), May 28.

 

The celebration included presentations highlighting the global contributions of Asian-Pacific Islanders, speeches by Pacific Partnership 2013 leadership and performances of traditional Pacific Island song and dance.

 

“The celebration was tremendous,” said Royal New Zealand Air Force Group Capt. Darryn Webb, Pacific Partnership 2013 deputy mission commander. “It was a really nice way to capture the important role that the Indo-Asia-Pacific community plays in the wider global community. It was really authentic and showed how important working together is for everybody in the region.”

 

The gathering gave members of the Pacific Partnership 2013 team a chance to learn more about one another’s culture.

 

“My favorite part was being able to see such diversity being celebrated,” said Flora Alailima, a registered nurse from Samoa volunteering with Pacific Partnership. “Everybody looks so uniform in the Navy, but things like this allows us to see peoples’ individuality.”

 

 Attendees said that the celebration was also an opportunity for Pacific Partnership 2013 personnel from around the world to bond as a unit.

 

“It’s one thing saying that you’re going to conduct a multi-national mission, but it’s another thing actually proving it,” said Webb. “Events like this reinforce exactly what it means to work as one team.”

 

For those of Asian Pacific heritage, Pacific Partnership, and missions like it, is of particular importance. The whole region is located in a geologically active area of the Pacific known as the “Ring of Fire.” In this region, the question is not if, but when a disaster might strike, as tragically witnessed in 2009 when an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, and its resulting tsunami, devastated Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa.

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USS Paul Hamilton Arrives in Manila

By Lt. j.g. Weston Floyd, USS Paul Hamilton Public Affairs Officer

 

MANILA, Republic of the Philippines — Forward-deployed USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) arrived in Manila, Republic of the Philippines, for a port visit May 31.

 

“We are thrilled to be visiting Manila,” said Cmdr. Luke Frost, commanding officer of Paul Hamilton.

 

“As a ship based in the Middle Pacific, we enjoy strong and vital ties to the people of the Philippines that go back generations and generations.  Our visit provides today’s Sailors the chance to strengthen their own personal connections, experience our common history in a real and tangible way and strengthen this partnership that makes our world more secure and prosperous.”

 

Sailors will be given the opportunity to experience the rich culture of the Philippines with various tours of local historic locations and regional attractions.

 

Twenty four Filipino-American Sailors will also be able to spend time with their families and close friends who reside in the Philippines.

 

“My two older sisters and older brother were both born in Illoco Norte—the birthplace of my parents and my grandparents,” said Ensign Mark Villa, one of the ship’s engineering officers.  “I have been back for family reunions twice before, and I will always remember the incredibly closely knit small towns, the strong families and strong bonds.  Everyone grows up together and knows each other.  There is such a strong sense of community.”

 

“I was born and raised in Zambales until I was 14,” said Hospital Corpsman Eulogio Gutierrez. “My father still lives in Bulacan, but I haven’t been back since 2007.  I’m excited to see my family and to taste the diniguan and enjoy the desserts!  To me the Philippines is all about family.”

 

In addition to enjoying the beauty and activities that attract tourists to Manila, Paul Hamilton Sailors will also volunteer at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, affording an opportunity to celebrate the shared sacrifices of a longstanding partnership and alliance, develop and enhance friendships with historic partners and help preserve this legacy for future generations.

 

Operations Specialist Ralph Kevin Camabaliza was born and raised in Pampanga. 

 

“I lived in Pampanga until I was five, and returned again for high school,” said Camabaliza.  “My mother and her family still live in Pampanga and she raised me to know the tight community, interconnectedness and ready willingness to help a neighbor that will always make the Philippines a part of who I am.”

 

Paul Hamilton deployed Sept. 21, 2012 and has been operating in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility for the past eight months, conducting a wide array of operations supporting regional security, counter-terrorism and combating transnational crime as partners in securing the global commons. 

 

“Our ship is the third destroyer our Navy has named for Paul Hamilton,” said Frost.  “The World War II ‘tin can’ destroyer earned seven battle stars in these waters.  It is such an honor to inherit the legacy of this partnership.  This alliance has safeguarded regional peace and security for the past half century and helped support the remarkable economic growth of this vast and diverse region.  We are really excited to make a port call here, in the Philippines.”

 

Paul Hamilton, an Arleigh burke-class guided-missile destroyer, is one of 11 surface combatants of Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, and is assigned to Destroyer Squadron THREE ONE.  The ship is home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

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USS Shiloh Sailors Visit Zhanjiang, China

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class N. Ross Taylor, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan

ZHANJIANG, China – USS Shiloh (CG 67) arrived at the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N)) South Sea Fleet headquarters in Zhanjiang, China, for a port visit, May 30.

The port visit to China is part of a series of military-to-military exchanges that are scheduled to take place this year between the two countries.

On the schedule of events are a PLA(N) hosted reception at the South Sea Fleet headquarters, ship-to-ship tours, sporting events and community service projects.  Shiloh Commanding Officer, Capt. James T. Jones will also meet with the Vice Mayor of Zhanjiang.

The visit to Zhanjiang will allow the ship’s crew a rare chance to experience Chinese culture firsthand, enjoy sightseeing and meet the people of China through sporting events, community service projects and public tours.

“I know each and every Sailor on Shiloh is looking forward to this unique opportunity,” said Capt. Jones.  “This will be a great chance for us to show our hosts the finest ship and crew the U.S. Navy has to offer.”

Shiloh is a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser with a crew of approximately 400 Sailors assigned to Commander, Task Force 70, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan to support security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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Chief of Phuket Provincial Office Visits Nimitz

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Linda S. Swearingen

PHUKET, Thailand (May 29, 2013) – The Chief of Phuket Provincial Office, members of the Thai military and Thai nationals visited the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), May 29.

Dr. Prajiad Aksornthamakul, Chief of Phuket Provincial Office, toured Nimitz during a port call visit in Phuket, Thailand.

During their time on Nimitz, the visitors met with Rear Adm. Michael S. White, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, to learn more about the capabilities and assets of Nimitz and CSG 11.

White escorted Aksornthamakul and guests through the ship to view the hangar bays, flight deck, bridge and flag mess while describing the ship’s history and thanking their hosts.

“We know it’s a lot of work for Phuket to host us and we are grateful the Chief of Phuket Provincial Office visited our aircraft carrier,” said White.

Aksornthamakul expressed his and the local Thai community’s appreciation for Nimitz’ visit to Phuket as one of their port calls during the current deployment.

“I feel that Thailand and the United States Navy have a good relationship,” said Aksornthamakul. “The Phuket Provincial Office always welcomes Sailors to visit us. We would like to ensure that everyone who visits Phuket enjoys it. I would like to express our appreciation during Nimitz’ port call to the Sailors that are taking a vacation in Phuket. The tourism is very good for our economy and we appreciate it. We welcome the U.S. military to Phuket not only as Sailors, but also as tourists. We are very happy you came to Phuket.”

Nimitz Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

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Nimitz Sailors Compete Against Local Team

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek Volland

PHUKET, Thailand (May 29, 2013) — Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) participated in an exhibition game with the British International School (BIS) basketball team, the Pythons.

The Nimitz basketball teams, Nimitz TNT and the Five Stars, warmed up before the big match by playing against each other in a short scrimmage game.

“This is an amazing opportunity for these boys,” said Jamie Blake, the BIS physical education teacher and coach for the Pythons, as he prepared his team for the first quarter.

After four, ten-minute quarters both teams were exhausted.

“These kids where amazing,” said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Byron Dewalt, coach of the Nimitz TNT. “During the first two quarters, they lead this game. After halftime though, our guys just kicked the rust off and went to work.”

As the final buzzer rang both teams were eager to congratulate each other on a game well played. The final score: Nimitz 94, Pythons 44.

“I can’t thank the Nimitz enough for coming here today,” said Blake. “The boys on this team have never played a team this athletic or this fast.”

The Nimitz teams were also very impressed by the sportsmanship of the Pythons.

“Playing a team like this makes everything worth it,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class JC Hunt IV. “When the game turned around in the second half and they started falling behind they weren’t angry or put out like some guys get back home. They played an amazing game and I hope to get another chance to play them again.”

Opportunities like the ones provided by this match-up are a great way for the Sailors to better understand the cultures of their host nations and serve to better strengthen the relationship between the Navy and the Thai people.

Nimitz, along with Carrier Strike Group 11, are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

 

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