Wednesday, October 2, 2013

US warship in Goa for strategies & fun

MORMUGAO: Close to 800 personnel from the US armed forces are looking forward to a week of sun, surf and sand with a touch of Goan hospitality, as US navy ship, the USS Harpers Ferry has dropped anchor at the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) on a 'friendship visit' to India. The US officers will join their Indian counterparts in a four-day 'tabletop' training exercise to be held onboard the warship, where they will exchange expertise and discuss tactics to manage fictional scenarios, mostly involving amphibious operations. But it will not be all work; the marines are also raring to play some cricket and football with their colleagues from the Indian Navy. The massive 609ft-long vessel is docked at MPT's breakwater berth, built especially for yachts and cruises. The ship can accommodate 504 troops apart from a crew of nearly 400, and is carrying dozens of US army tanks, trucks, bulldozers and heavy-duty weaponry. 
Addressing the press on Monday, Christine Lawson, information commissioner at the US consulate, Mumbai, said the relationship between USA and India was going from strength to strength, a fact reiterated by US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent meeting in Washington. 
The ship's captain, Commander Stephen Ilteris said, "We are excited about linking up with the Indian armed forces. We will be taking them on a tour of the ship and showing off our capability. During the training exercise, we will take up various fictitious scenarios that the armed forces could face, and discuss strategies and on-field tactics that will empower decision-making and promote best practices." 
Taking a walk through the cavernous insides of the warship, the officers proudly displayed their big guns-literally. An assortment of chunky weapons, sophisticated surveillance robots, a fleet of amphibious tanks, an innocuous-looking machine that "shoots out shells as big as footballs, wreaking some serious damage in a 300m-radius"-the words of the young marine manning the weapon... the vessel looked fully equipped to go to war, rather than the peaceful training and tourism exercises that it will embark upon across the world over the next seven months. 
The warship also boasts of a swanky medical unit, fitted out with all essential diagnostic and surgical equipment to perform minor operations and dental work. "This is the first international port of call since we started out from San Diego in August. Most of our marines have never been to India, and are thrilled to have an opportunity to soak in some Indian food and culture," said Lt Col George Markert, the highly-decorated commanding officer of the battalion of marines on board. Unlike Indian naval ships, the USS Harpers Ferry is fully integrated, with 30% of the deployed sailors and officers women.

No comments:

Post a Comment