Deputy Chief of Mission Kristen Bauer, U.S. Embassy Jakarta, joined U.S. and Indonesian navy divers on board the USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) to lay a wreath at the site of the USS Houston (CA 30), June 11.
The commemoration ceremony occurred mid-way through a 5-day bilateral diving exercise as part of the 2014 convening of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).
“It is an honor to pay tribute to these service members who lost their lives on the USS Houston and remember their sacrifice. Our partnership with the Indonesian Navy to work together in surveying the USS Houston site will assist in preserving the remains of the USS Houston and her crew,” Deputy Chief of Mission Bauer said.
Houston was sunk during the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait Feb. 28, 1942, with the loss of more than seven hundred souls. The ship remains sovereign property of the United States under customary international law, and is a popular dive site. Houston is located off the west coast of Java, Indonesia, one of nine partner nations participating in CARAT 2014.
Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit divers embarked on Safeguard began surveying the wreck Monday, June 9. They are aided by Dr. Alexis Catsambis, an underwater archaeologist from the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), who provides operations planning support in order for the mission to effectively document the state of preservation of Houston. Documentation methods include inspections by surface supplied divers, sonar sensing systems and a remotely operated vehicle.
In its 20th year, CARAT, which continues through late 2014, is a bilateral exercise series designed to address shared maritime security priorities and concerns, strengthen navy-to-navy relationships and enhance interoperability among participating forces. The Indonesian Navy has been part of the exercise since it began in 1995, and this year’s CARAT diving exercise is just one aspect of ongoing navy-to-navy cooperation.
Press Release, June 13, 2014; Image: US Navy