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PORT HERA, Timor-Leste – Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) and Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) partnered in the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) maritime exercise in the territorial waters surrounding Port Hera, Dec. 6-7.
The CARAT exercise series, celebrating its 27th anniversary, is designed to address shared maritime security concerns and strengthens partnerships between region navies. The sea phase of the engagement focused on naval force capabilities and featured cooperative evolutions that highlighted the ability of the U.S. and Timor-Leste to work together toward the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“We’re proud to be part of the 27th annual CARAT exercise and to represent the U.S., showcasing the capabilities of its Navy,” said Cmdr. Clayton Beas, commanding officer, Charleston. “With this training we can further our shared interests in maritime security.”
Charleston and embarked “Blackjacks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 focused on embarkation, navigation, engineering, damage control, and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS). The evolutions provided a full spectrum of individual skill enhancements to develop members to monitor and enforce maritime zones as well as prepare members for support operations.
“It was a revolutionary experience for me, and I think the rest of the crew would agree,” said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Carter Cunningham. “I believe the training that took place here will improve our ability as well as our partner forces to collaborate and overcome any complex challenges.”
The CARAT Timor-Leste harbor phase will take place, Dec. 10-15. The harbor phase will include personnel from the F-FDTL, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.
With nearly two decades of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Timor-Leste, the two countries continue to work closely together to advance a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region. CARAT Timor-Leste 2021 underscores this shared commitment.
Attached to DESRON 7, Charleston is on a rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the region, and to work alongside allied and partner navies to provide maritime security and stability, key pillars of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
As the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed destroyer squadron in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as ESG-7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.
Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.