SATTAHIP, Thailand - The 18th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and Royal Thai Navy and Marine Corps begins May 17 with opening ceremonies in Sattahip. While the exercise is designed to enhance maritime security skills and operational cohesiveness among participating forces, it also focuses on relationship building between military participants through sports and social events, and improving relationships with the community through civic action projects and community service events.
CARAT is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Timor Leste joins the exercise for the first time in 2012.
While the training in each phase of CARAT varies based on shared goals of the host nation and the U.S., a common theme is the development of maritime security capabilities, and increasing interoperability among participants. Skill areas exercised during CARAT include Maritime Interception Operations, riverine, amphibious and undersea warfare operations, diving and salvage operations, naval gunnery and maneuvering events, along with disaster response exercises.
"This exercise is entering its 18th year, and the fact we’ve added three new countries to CARAT in three years tells me our partners share common goals with us, and see CARAT as a valuable way to train towards those goals," said Rear Adm. Tom Carney, Commander, Task Force 73 and CARAT's executive agent.
Capt. Dave Welch, Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, will lead CARAT Task Group 73.1. Capt. Wallace Lovely, Deputy Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31, is the exercise’s head planner.
“This year, we’ve added the at-sea refueling of a Royal Thai Navy ship and a disaster response beach landing scenario at Ko Yo Island, in addition to a complex amphibious landing at Had Yao Beach,” Lovely said. “The complexity and tempo of the schedule is very challenging, and should give the U.S. and Royal Thai navies a chance to fully exercise their operational capabilities across a broad spectrum of warfare areas.”
U.S. Navy ships participating in CARAT Thailand 2012 include the dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), U.S. Coast Guard national security cutter USCGC Waesche (WMSL-751), dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) and the diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50). Other participants include P-3C Orion and SH-60 Seahawk aircraft, U.S. Navy Seabees, Navy Riverine Squadron One, the U.S. 7th Fleet band, Marines from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment and III Marine Expeditionary Force, and others.
Approximately 1,500 U.S. personnel are participating in CARAT Thailand 2012.