Fri, 18 May 2001

Indonesia, U.S. hold naval exercises

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Navy and its American counterpart have shrugged off the strained relationship between their governments as they are taking part in an annual series of disaster relief simulation exercises.

Called CARAT-7/01, the joint exercises began on May 5 and will finish on May 26. The program involves 1,571 personnel of the Indonesian Navy and 500 personnel of the U.S. Navy who are based in Okinawa, Japan.

"The relationship between us (the Indonesian and the U.S. Navy) is not disturbed, even though the U.S. government has imposed a military embargo on our country," Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Indroko Sastrowiryono said at the Navy Western Fleet headquarters here on Thursday after a ceremony which marked the official start to the training.

Present at the opening ceremony were, among others, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert S. Gelbard and the Chief of Marine Corps Rear Adm. Harry Triono.

Arriving in Tanjung Priok port on Thursday for the joint exercise were USS Wadsworth, USS Rushmore and USS Curts. The Indonesian Navy is deploying Ki Hajar Dewantara, KRI Tanjung Kambani, and KRI Nala-363 warships.

The joint exercise is the seventh in as many years.

During the program, participants will measure their skills in, among others, screen exercise, diving tactics maneuvering, support force ashore and deck landing. They will also carry out humanitarian missions in areas which are still recovering from recent natural disasters and other civic missions, mostly aimed at improving people's health.

A U.S. Embassy statement said the program dubbed "Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2001" was part of a wider exercise involving Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. (02)