SURABAYA, Indonesia - More than 100 officers and band members from Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL) welcomed USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mellon to Indonesia for the 16th annual Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) exercise, May 26.

Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL) Navy Rear Adm. Among Margono, Commander of the Eastern Fleet Command, began the exercise by welcoming the U.S. military at the NEA Indonesia 2010 Opening Ceremony.

“I would like to thank all of you, especially Rear Adm. Nora Tyson, for her help in these exercise efforts,” said Margono. “I strongly believe that NEA 2010 will be a fruitful experience for all participants.”

The U.S. Navy and TNI-AL have collaborated on major activities in the recent past; mainly in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following the Dec. 2004 tsunami in Sumatra, and following a major earthquake in Padang September 2009.

Capt. Richard L. Clemmons, commodore of Task Group 73.1, explained why the partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia is paramount to our success in Southeast Asia.

“Naval Engagement Activity Indonesia plays an important role in our Navy’s maritime strategy of building global partnerships,” said Clemmons. “NEA is a great opportunity to build upon our pre-existing relationship with our Indonesian counterparts and to learn from each other what can be accomplished through our combined efforts.”

Training events held during NEA in Indonesia include search and rescue, flight deck familiarization, boarding exercises, medical and dental activities, an amphibious landing, salvage exercises as well as community service projects and performances by the U.S. 7th Fleet band Orient Express.

“The events planned for our NEA phase in Indonesia will help to promote our interoperability and foster better relationships with our Indonesian partners,” said Clemmons.

CARAT 2010 features six original partner nations, Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, plus Indonesia (where the exercise is called NEA). For 2010, two new CARAT participants include Cambodia and Bangladesh. The total number of forces scheduled to participate in the exercise include approximately 18,000 U.S. and partner nation personnel, 50 aircraft and 73 ships.

For more information on the exercise, visit the CARAT Facebook page or the CARAT Website.