HAMBANTOTA PORT, Sri Lanka – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) arrived in Hambantota Port, Sri Lanka, for the first phase of the 25th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and several partner nations in South and Southeast Asia, April 18, 2019.
The overarching goals of the CARAT exercise series are to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance interoperability among participating forces.
“The CARAT exercise series allows our Sailors to practice traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in a complex and evolving environment,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Matthew Smidt, commanding officer of the USS Spruance. “This training will undoubtedly shape how we grow as a Navy and remain a model of international cooperation and friendship. We are excited for the days to come operating with the Sri Lankan Navy.”
The CARAT exercise series began in 1995 and remains a model of cooperation that has evolved in complexity and enables partner navies to refine operations and tactics in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges.
U.S. Navy elements participating in CARAT Sri Lanka include; Spruance, CTF-73, CTF-75, P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, Underwater Construction Team Two, U.S. Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) Pacific, and Seabees from 30th Naval Construction Regiment.
During the sea phase of CARAT Sri Lanka 2019, Spruance departed Hambantota Port and integrated with the Sri Lanka Navy vessels at sea to test their ability to communicate, coordinate and respond to scenarios at sea to include maritime patrol operations, maneuvering exercises, surface gunnery drills, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) drills, vertical replenishments operations, flight operations, and search and rescue swimmer exercises.
Spruance embarked six senior Sri Lanka naval officers to provide an opportunity for hands-on learning and sharing of best practices during the “at sea” phase of the exercise, increasing the value of the exercise and achieving the overall goal of improved interoperability.
Spruance leadership were also able to interact with their counterparts during the shipboard reception and planning meetings which offers a valuable experience in expanding both nations’ interoperability and friendship.
“We are honored to be able to participate in CARAT Sri Lanka 2019, the 25th annual occurrence of this exercise series, and to be the first U.S. warship to pull into Hambantota,” Smidt, commanding officer of the USS Spruance. “It is always an incredible experience to operate alongside our international partners and grow our professional skills side by side to ensure we are prepared together to respond to any crisis.”
As the U.S. Navy’s oldest and longest continually-running regional exercise in South Asia and Southeast Asia, CARAT strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific.
Spruance has participated in several CARAT serials in the past and most recently was the Indonesia series of CARAT in 2016. Spruance is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.