Lt.j.g. Mohammad Issa –
LUMUT, Malaysia – As part of the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series, Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia 2021 concluded Nov. 30, following eight days of virtual, in-person, and at-sea engagements that enhanced collaboration between the Royal Malaysian Navy and U.S. Navy and focused on shared maritime security challenges of the region.
U.S. assets participating in MTA Malaysia included the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Tulsa (LCS 16), embarked MH-60S Seahawk helicopter of Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron 21, and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft assigned to CTF 72. U.S. personnel include staff from CTF 72, CTF 73, CTF 75, CTF 76, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, U.S. 7th Fleet Band, and U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur.
The exercise focused on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and featured cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of Malaysia and the U.S. to work together towards the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.
"We value our long-lasting relationship with the Royal Malaysian Navy, strengthened by routine participation in bilateral exercises like MTA Malaysia but also highlighted by participation in events like RIMPAC and SEACAT—both multilateral events, but all focused on providing security, yielding stability, and generating prosperity," said Capt. Tom Ogden, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7.
The at-sea phase took place in the Strait of Malacca, where U.S. Navy assets were joined by ships and aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Navy for partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships. The exercise featured complex at-sea training to demonstrate the bilateral force’s ability to work together through numerous events including divisional tactics designed to enhance communication as ships sail together in complex maneuvers. Other focus areas included surface warfare, mobile dive and salvage training, replenishment-at-sea, a gunnery exercise, and exchanges between Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians.
The virtual subject matter expert exchange events featured a variety of joint training opportunities, including dive/salvage training, aviation and information sharing, force protection, maritime domain awareness (MDA), and maritime law and law enforcement.
The intergovernmental organization personnel from the European Union’s Critical Maritime Routes Indo-Pacific (EU-CRIMARIO) initiative provided subject matter expertise by facilitating an MDA training event and giving a lecture on maritime law enforcement practice and counter-piracy.
“The smiling faces today are the symbols of happiness, satisfaction, and being able to meet the objective of the exercise,” said Capt. Mohammed Fairuz bin Hassan, commanding officer, KD Lekiu (FFG 30), Royal Malaysian Navy, during the virtual closing ceremony. “That is only achieved by the detailed planning, commitment, and adherence to the safety and procedures of the exercise. We successfully and safely executed all the exercises that we have planned for the last few months.”
This year, MTA Malaysia resumed with safety mitigation measures after being canceled in 2020 due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Malaysia has been part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series since it began in 1995. MTA Malaysia 2021 is a continuation of 27 years of maritime engagements between the U.S. Navy and Royal Malaysian Navy serving to enhance mutual capabilities in ensuring maritime security and stability.
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.