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From Commander, Task Group 73.5 Public Affairs

OKINAWA, Japan (NNS)
-- The command staff of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1 arrived May 22 to take command of the task group for the 13th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series.

Task Group (TG) 73.5, consisting of three U.S. Navy ships, is under the leadership of Capt. Al Collins, who serves as commander, DESRON 1, based in San Diego.

CARAT, which will take place during the next three months, consists of a series of bilateral military exercises involving the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

In addition to military operations designed to enhance the cohesiveness between participating forces in skill areas of mutual benefit, CARAT focuses on building relationships between its participants through community service and social events, as well as medical, dental and engineering civil action projects.

Collins, who also oversaw the highly successful CARAT 2006 series, wants to expand upon the gains of last year’s exercise with particular focus on increasing the CARAT partners’ mutual ability to communicate and provide increased levels of proficiency in maritime interdiction operations.

TG 73.5 consists of the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), the guided missile frigates USS Ford (FFG 54) and USS Jarrett (FFG 33), and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43.

Collins is embarked aboard the Harpers Ferry, which is homeported in Sasebo, Japan as a part of the U.S. 7th Fleet's Forward Deployed Naval Forces. Jarrett is homeported in San Diego. Ford is homeported in Everett, Wash. HSL-43 is based at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Approximately 1,300 U.S. personnel will take part in CARAT 2007. The number of participants from CARAT partner nations will vary.

For more news from Commander Task Force 73, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/clwp/.
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