The Jakarta Post
The US government has expressed interest in improving maritime cooperation with the government following the commitment expressed by President Joko Widodo to strengthen Indonesia's maritime sector.
The US Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, applauded the President's commitment to strengthening the maritime sector in Indonesia, saying that it was a very positive move.
He said the vast maritime territory and coastline of Indonesia could present challenges for the country, especially in terms of illegal activities such as smuggling and piracy.
'We are very interested in the commitment of President Joko Widodo's administration. That is why we hope to improve the cooperation with Indonesia in the maritime sector,' Mabus told a press briefing in Medan, North Sumatra, over the weekend.
Mabus said that the US also wanted to boost cooperation with the Indonesian Navy in the fields of security, humanity and education.
Part of the cooperation would include a disaster-mitigation program and an exchange program for naval officers.
Mabus was in Medan to meet the crew of the USS Rodney M. Davis, a guided-missile frigate that had just conducted a joint exercise with the Indonesian Navy.
He said the Rodney M. Davis was the first warship to berth in Medan in the last five years.
Navy chief of staff Adm. Marsetio said the relationship between the US and Indonesian navies continued to get closer as shown in their frequent participation in joint exercises.
'We always participate in all joint exercises with the US. We do this to help achieve our goal of becoming a world-class navy,' Marsetio said.
The US frigate, along with its crew of 200, visited Medan from Oct. 23 to 27.
While in Medan the ship's crew members visited a number of senior high schools to help the students practice their English and to improve their knowledge about the US and its people.
The crew members, including officers and accompanied by Indonesian Navy personnel, also planted trees at Beringin ( Banyan ) Park in Medan.
The captain of the Rodney M. Davis, Cmdr. Todd Whalen, said he was very happy to be able to visit Indonesia. He said the warship had many links to the Asia Pacific region.
He said the ship's crew had previously cooperated with the Indonesian Navy in various bilateral and multilateral joint exercises.
'We are very happy to visit Medan to further develop the communication, interaction and close relationship between the two countries as well as to find new friends,' Whalen said when he welcomed a number of Indonesian officials aboard the ship in Belawan Port on Sunday.
The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate is armed with missiles and is under the command of the US 7th Fleet to provide security in the Indian Ocean and the Asia Pacific region.
In August, the ship took part in the 'Sail Raja Ampat' event organized by Indonesia in the waters of West Papua.