USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and a pair of landing craft air cushions (LCAC) steam in formation with SLNS Suranimila (P702). (U.S. Marine Coprs/Cpl. Victoria Decker)

INDIAN OCEAN - San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) assigned to the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), with attached 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, partnered with the Sri Lankan naval ship Suranimila (P702) to conduct an exercise at sea, Aug. 28.

During these types of exercises, multiple ships sail in formation to practice communications and maneuvering procedures. In addition to Anchorage and Suranimila, two landing craft air cushions (LCAC), assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, one AH-1Z Cobra helicopter and one UH-1Y Huey helicopter, both assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter detachment of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 participated.

The exercise allowed the ships to improve each crews' knowledge and strengthen a wide variety of seamanship skills critical to operating throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

"The Sailors and Marines on USS Anchorage were honored to work with our partners in the Sri Lankan military during their port visit," said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet. "The close teamwork we've seen in this visit, U.S.-Sri Lankan participation in multiple military exercises over the past year, and the hospital ship USNS Mercy's visit to Trincomalee in April, reflects our mutual commitment to strengthening the partnership between the U.S. and Sri Lankan militaries."

For the Sailors aboard the Anchorage, it was also a chance to improve their skills with their Sri Lankan counterparts sailing alongside.

A part of a growing U.S.-Sri Lanka naval partnership, the at-sea exercise follows the Anchorage’s theater security cooperation exercise conducted with the Sri Lankan Navy and Navy Marines, Sri Lankan 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.

“The Anchorage team and I had an incredible time in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka and we are incredibly proud to be serving alongside the Sri Lankan navy,” said Capt. Dennis Jacko, commanding officer of USS Anchorage. “Not only do we increase our proficiency in communications, but also continue to build on a strong and lasting partnership with the Sri Lankan navy.”

“It was great to see us and the Sri Lankans operating in tandem,” said Lt. j.g. Kayla Coleman, the officer of the deck while operating together. “This exercise is a great culmination of the highly successful theatre security cooperation event in Sri Lanka.”

Anchorage, part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the embarked 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.