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TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka - Amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Trincomalee for a scheduled port visit, Aug. 24.
During the visit, Sailors and Marines will have opportunities to explore the local area and meet with their counterparts during exercises with the Sri Lanka Navy and Marines. The visit is also an opportunity for U.S. 7th Fleet to explore local logistics support services for visiting naval forces operating in a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Part of a growing U.S.-Sri Lanka naval partnership, the visit follows the Sri Lanka Navy’s inaugural participation in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), which concluded Aug. 2, as well as exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Sri Lanka, held for the first time last year.
Robert Hilton, Chargé d'affaires ad interim of the United States Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, welcomed the arrival of the USS Anchorage and embarked MEU. "This visit and training will build our shared capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies in the Indo-Pacific region," said Hilton. "We're also excited to try out the air logistics hub concept which utilizes Sri Lanka's strategic location in the Indian Ocean to ensure the quick availability of relief supplies, equipment and other material when needed by the U.S. and partner militaries and humanitarian organizations."
“Our Navy and Marine Corps team is deeply committed to continuing to strengthen our partnership with the Sri Lankan armed forces,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet. “We are proud of the tremendous work that American Sailors and Marines are doing alongside their Sri Lankan teammates.”
Capt. Dennis Jacko, commanding officer of Anchorage, said Sailors and Marines are focused on completing a successful mission and representing America in Sri Lanka.
“These ship visits help demonstrate the value of the growing U.S.-Sri Lanka partnership,” said Jacko. “The goal with Anchorage is to not only enhance security cooperation, but to build understanding of the HADR (humanitarian assistance, disaster relief) capability that contributes to disaster response, along with sharing of best practices and enabling more efficient joint relief efforts in the event of a future disaster.”
Approximately 300 Sri Lankan naval academy midshipmen and 40 distinguished visitors, will tour Anchorage to learn about the ship’s amphibious capabilities. Additionally, Sailors and Marines will conduct training in visit, board, search and seizure, security force reaction techniques with the Sri Lanka Navy and Marines.
Jacko also emphasized the damage control training that will occur during the visit. “The U.S. Navy damage control program is the world’s most proficient, and I’m excited to be a part of sharing our best practices with the Sri Lankan Navy. I’m also very pleased to be able to return to Sri Lanka since visiting in 2010 on USS Pearl Harbor.”
"The Sri Lankan navy, host nation support team and the U.S. Embassy have provided tremendous assistance and cooperation in developing the first temporary air logistics hub concept in Sri Lanka,” said Cmdr. Deborah K. McIvy, assistant chief of staff, Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “Successfully leveraging local logistics support services will help standardize the process for future operations, to include supplying mission-critical supplies for HADR efforts.”
In addition to the professional exchanges, Sailors and Marines will take part in sporting events, including baseball, soccer, basketball and volleyball.
Anchorage, which is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the 13th MEU are deployed to the 7th fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies and maintain a presence postured to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations.