U.S. Navy sailors man the rails aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance as the ship pulls into Hambantota Navy Base, Sri Lanka, on Thursday. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan D. McLearnon/U.S. Navy
April 22 (UPI) -- The Cooperation Afloat and Readiness Training exercise concluded four days earlier than scheduled in Sri Lanka because of bombings in the nation.
The U.S. and Sri Lanka naval branches made the joint decision to halt the 25th anniversary of their CART exercise on shore and at sea.
"All U.S. personnel involved in CARAT are accounted for and redeployment is in progress," the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said in an updated news release Monday. "We fully support our Sri Lankan partners during this tragic situation and offer our deepest condolences for all of the victims."
At least 290 people died in the Easter suicide attacks at churches and hotels. The government declared a state of emergency to take effect at midnight Monday.
The exercise was based in Hamantota port in the southern part of the country, about 160 miles southeast of the country's capital of Colombo where seven the eight bombings occurred in the city and nearby.
The week-long planned exercise began Friday with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.
Sailors and Marines will continue CARAT with other countries throughout the year, including Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand.
CARAT is the U.S. Navy's oldest and longest continually-running regional exercise in South and Southeast Asia.
"Twenty-five years of CARAT speaks for the enduring partnerships in this region," said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Task Force 73. "CARAT represents a quarter century of partners and allies in the region bringing their enthusiasm, knowledge, and perspectives to this exercise. CARAT also represents our future continuing to work together and strengthening our relationships."
The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance, Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft arrived at the Hamantota port.
Sailors and Marines planned underwater diving sessions, combat lifesaving training and small boat maneuvers.
Navy Seabees also planned to work with the Sri Lankan Navy civil engineering branch to renovate an elementary school in the nearby area.