In this file photo, a Philippine Navy helicopter lands aboard USS Ashland (LSD 48) during exercise CARAT in June. (USMC/Cpl. Carl King Jr.)

SINGAPORE - Navy and Coast Guard representatives from 11 countries came together for dialogue and information sharing during a Helicopter Operations from Ships other Than Aircraft Carriers (HOSTAC) conference in Singapore, Aug. 29-Sept. 2.

Conference participants represented Great Britain, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. HOSTAC is an international military standardization program that provides a venue to align standards and streamline information to safely conduct cross-deck helicopter operations with more than 50 navies and coast guards around the world.

"Helicopter operations are critical to advanced maritime operations and they must be synchronized," said Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Weatherup, aviation operations officer for Task Force 73. "From humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) missions, maritime domain awareness operations, anti-submarine warfare or moving personnel or supplies, aircrews must work closely with other operators and those from various partner forces"

Weatherup said interoperability in helicopter operations between allies and partners underlined the importance of the training and dialogue at the conference.

"The bottom line is that maritime-based aircraft need a place to land at sea," said Weatherup. "To be successful in both bilateral and multilateral operating environments, we need to conduct effective helicopter operations with our friends and partners."

Weatherup said beyond interoperability, the conference dialogue and discussions placed a strong emphasis on aviation safety.

"Multilateral participation from all of our partner nations in HOSTAC strengthens aviation safety while increasing our understanding of the platforms and the technology that each nation operates," said Weatherup. "Conferences like this go a long way in deepening partnerships and enhancing our ability to conduct multi-national helicopter operations at sea."

Commander, Task Force 73 conducts advanced planning, organizes resources and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises such as SEACAT, the bilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series and the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam.

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.