Story by MC2 Kelsey Adams, Commander Task Force 75
GRESIK DISTRICT, Indonesia – U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 and Indonesian Marines assigned to the 2nd Engineering Battalion conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a construction project at the SDN Duduk Sampeyan Elementary School as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia 2019, Aug. 5.
Mark McGovern, U.S. Consul General in Surabaya, represented the United States and delivered remarks.
“It is no accident that our builders have spent their time working on a school,” said McGovern. “As democracies, our countries value education, and we have much respect for our educators. The U.S. Navy and TNI will be forever connected to this school, these students, and this community.”
Since breaking ground June 19, the teams have constructed a two-room classroom building, with one room wired to support 20 computers to meet Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture standards, renovated two existing classrooms and a library, built a drainage ditch around the school, and updated and tiled the existing passageways between the classrooms.
“Our mission out here on this site was to not only build new classrooms and renovate the existing buildings, but to strengthen our relationship with the local military, as well as the members of the surrounding community,” said U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Ivan Rodriguez, officer in charge of the CARAT Indonesia 2019 NMCB 4 detachment. “With the completion of construction, these 12 Seabees and 45 marines were able to successfully accomplish the mission in a way that surpassed all of our expectations.”
In addition to the scheduled construction, the teams worked together to build a new volleyball and basketball court and long jump pit, and installed grass in the courtyard for the children to use for outdoor recreation.
“What we have accomplished here together has really meant a lot to the children, the community and myself,” said Indonesian Marine Lt. Nandar Maykal, officer in charge of the CARAT Indonesia 2019 2nd Engineering Battalion. “Everything our two teams have done here during this mission will have a positive impact on our working relationship with the U.S. military and the community for years to come.”
According to Rodriguez and Maykal, their favorite thing about this mission was the interaction and knowledge exchange that occurred between the U.S. Seabees and the Indonesian Marines.
“We may have had different methods of doing certain jobs, but at the end of the day, we worked together and accomplished the mission,” said Rodriguez. “CARAT 2019 gave us the opportunity to not only strengthen our partnership with our Indonesian counterparts and build lasting friendships with them, but the work we did here at this site will serve as a symbol for years to come of what can be accomplished when the U.S. and Indonesian militaries work together.”
CARAT, the U.S. Navy’s longest running regional exercise in South and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific.
CARAT builds upon other engagements in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Maritime Training Activity Malaysia, Maritime Training Activity Philippines, Pacific Griffin with Singapore and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These engagements bring like-minded naval forces together routinely based on shared values and maritime security interests.