USS Comstock (LSD 45) departed Sri Lanka today following a week of exchanges with the Sri Lankan Navy and Marine Corps. These exercises focused on improving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts and coordination, the third such military-to-military exchange between U.S. Sailors and Marines and their Sri Lankan counterparts in the past 12 months.
“We hope to build upon past successes and do what we can to exchange best naval practices for regional security and humanitarian assistance, and to ensure a bright future for further bilateral engagements like this,” said Commander Bradley Coletti, commanding officer of the USS Comstock.
U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap noted, “Our growing military-to-military cooperation reflects the progress Sri Lanka has made on reconciliation and justice. As Sri Lanka continues to make progress in implementing its commitments to its people and the international community, this will form the basis of further cooperation between our militaries.”
Approximately 325 U.S. Sailors and Marines joined 175 participants from the Sri Lankan Navy and Marine Corps as part of this exchange. U.S. Marines embarked aboard the USS Comstock helped introduce the latest tactics and equipment for the Sri Lanka Marine Corps, including life-saving skills; convoy operations; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training; and amphibious vehicle familiarization.
During the visit, the Sailors and Marines of the USS Comstock and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) also experienced the rich cultural sites of Sri Lanka. In addition, military personnel joined members of the U.S. Embassy to donate toys and renovate children’s dormitories at the Ceylon School for the Deaf and Blind in Ratmalana.
“We are grateful to all of the Sailors and Marines for spending a few days helping hearing-impaired Sri Lankan students at the Ceylon School,” said Ambassador Keshap.
USS Comstock, assigned to the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, and embarked 11th MEU are on scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet and 5th Fleet area of responsibilities.