STRAITS OF MALACCA - Two commissioned Malaysian naval officers embarked aboard USS Avenger (MCM 1) to grow bi-lateral ties between the U.S. 7th Fleet and the Malaysian navy through an inter-navy exchange that began May 8.
The Malaysian officers, Lt. Lim Kim Tat and Lt. Mohd Hafiz bin Atan, both had the opportunity to observe Avenger Sailors in a sea and anchor evolution, observe an integrated training drill, learn about mine sweeping operations and see a traditional U.S. Navy "crossing the line" ceremony.
"It's our first time on a U.S. Navy ship," said Tat. "We have been able to observe a number of ship's scenarios, which are very different. There are many differences between our navies and I believe I have learned some useful things to bring back to my own."
Ensign Garth Thomas gave the two Malaysian naval officers a tour of the ship's mine sweeping capabilities, describing general characteristics of U.S. Navy equipment while discussing with Tat and Atan how the Malaysian navy performs mine sweeping operations.
"It's very interesting to see people involved in the same kind of warfare who have totally different ways of thinking. We learned a lot from each other," said Thomas.
The Malaysian naval officers observed several damage control and integrated training drills aboard Avenger. Throughout the evolutions, officers and enlisted personnel helped explain the significance of specific methods the U.S. Navy uses in training personnel.
Chief Quartermaster Christopher Denton said he observed the Malaysian naval officers watching attentively during a sea and anchor evolution as Avenger moored in Chengi Naval Base, Singapore.
"For an ally to get to work with the U.S. Navy is always a big deal for them," said Denton. "I think having these guys aboard gives the opportunity for some interaction between two different, but similar navies."
Thomas said that the relationships between officers on the ship seemed indicative of the larger relationship growing between the United States and Malaysian navies. According to the State Department officials, Malaysia has made regional cooperation a central piece of it's foreign policy and the U.S. 7th Fleet and Malaysian navy also participate in military exercises together.
Cooperation between the 7th Fleet and Malaysian navy in anti-piracy efforts has contributed to the recent decline in pirate attacks in the Straits of Malacca, through which one quarter of the world's traded goods pass through every year.
"I think the Malaysian officers are getting a good opportunity to observe how we work on a day to day basis," said Denton. "I can see how these kinds of military-to-military exchanges can be extremely helpful in getting the U.S. Navy and our allies working together even better."
Most of all, Hafiz said he wanted to bring some of the leadership skills he learned from Avenger Sailors back to his own ship.
"I was very impressed with how Sailors here have very frank debriefings," said Hafiz. "I think I will be bringing lots of new ideas back to my ship. I am very excited to share this information with my compatriots just as the Avenger has shared with me."