Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kitty Hawk, Allies Complete Malabar Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Olivia Giger, Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 makes a final pass before landing aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) during exercise Malabar 07-2. This multinational exercise includes naval forces from India, Australia, Japan, Singapore and the United States. Kitty Hawk and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 are currently conducting their summer deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jarod Hodge)

The USS Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 5 completed exercise Malabar Sept. 9 with USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Carrier Air Wing 11, and ships from the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and the Republic of Singapore Navy.

The six-day exercise began Sept. 4 and took place in the Bay of Bengal. It involved more than 20,000 personnel on 28 ships and 150 aircraft.

This year was different from previous exercises because India expanded by inviting Japan, Singapore and Australia to join the exercise, increasing its scale and complexity.

The five nations worked together to improve their anti-submarine warfare, anti-piracy, humanitarian and combat skills, in an effort to be prepared should a real-life situation call them to work together in the future.

“[Malabar] is an exercise for bringing maritime professionals together and learning from each other,” said Vice Adm. Doug Crowder, U.S. 7th Fleet commander, in a press conference held on Kitty Hawk’s flight deck, Sept. 7.

Numerous foreign officers from the participating navies were also on board to learn about and observe carrier flight operations.

“The ability to work together quickly and effectively doesn’t happen by accident,” said Rear Adm. Nigel Coates, Australian Fleet commander. "It happens because of exercises like Malabar, where our navies can get together, learn and practice our ability to work together on short notice."

“I think you can never over-estimate the importance of being called together at short notice to work together and be able to understand each other,” said Republic of Singapore Navy Col. Wellman Wan, commander of the First Flotilla and navy operations manager.

A team of 14 Sailors from the Kitty Hawk Strike Group embarked all foreign ships to set up and maintain CENTRIX communications equipment, which enabled all participating units to communicate with each other.

Malabar 07-2 is the strike group’s final major exercise of its summer deployment. The strike group is the U.S. Navy’s largest and includes the carrier, seven ships of Destroyer Squadron 15, two Aegis weapons system equipped guided-missile cruisers and Carrier Air Wing 5.

The ships operate from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, and the air wing operates from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Together, they serve as the 7th Fleet’s combatant force.