USS Ashland Returns to Philippines for CARAT, Seven Months After Operation Damayan
SOUTH CHINA SEA -- The forward-deployed Amphibious Dock Landing Ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), and it's embarked Sailors and Marines, is participating in exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014 with the Philippine Marines Corps and Navy.
This exercise, which began June 27 and concludes July 1st, comes only seven months after Ashland supported Operation Damayan relief efforts following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, in which the ship recovered, refueled and launched helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys delivering supplies ashore.
"For the better part of two weeks we provided helicopter refueling and lily pad services for the helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys that would deliver relief supplies," said Cmdr. Douglas Patterson, commander, USS Ashland. "We would refuel them several times a day so they could continue that chain of relief to the mainland."
During the relief efforts, Ashland worked with Philippine liaison officers who were aboard to facilitate communication and coordination between multi-national units afloat and ashore.
Designed to address shared maritime security priorities, strengthen relationships and enhance interoperability between participating forces, CARAT remains a practical venue to prepare for events that might call upon participating forces to respond cooperatively.
"It's good to be back in the Philippines again for CARAT," said Patterson. "It's exercises like this one, where we get to work with our Philippine allies, and other
regional partners, that helps us integrate easily with that Navy or Marine Corps."
During CARAT 2014, Ashland worked with the Philippine Navy and Marine Corps during a series of training scenarios and professional exchanges. Evolutions included gunnery exercises against a moving target, formation maneuvers with the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and two Philippine Navy ships - BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16) and BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) - and a combined amphibious assault with U.S. and Philippine Marines.
In its 20th year, CARAT is a bilateral maritime exercise series between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Timor-Leste.