A U.S. Navy task group comprised of ships, aircraft, Sailors and Marines arrived in the Philippines to commence the 20th annual exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), June 26.
Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) arrived in Subic Bay, while diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) arrived in Sangley Point. An opening ceremony was held on board the Philippine navy ship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16), one of two former Hamilton-class Coast Guard Cutters transferred to the Philippines navy in recent years.
“It’s safe to say that after two decades, many of the senior officers and enlisted here today probably participated in a past CARAT Philippines, and this coming week, more than 1,000 U.S. Navy Sailors and Marines will join the ranks of CARAT alumni,” said Rear Adm. Stuart Munsch, commander of Task Force 74 and 7th Fleet’s executive agent for CARAT Philippines.
Munsch noted that CARAT was part of a broader series of U.S.-Philippines navy-to-navy exercises, exchanges and staff talks that occurred throughout the year.
“These engagements share a common theme, that our security cooperation not only supports mutual interests, it contributes to regional stability and prosperity – a formula that is truly positive sum,” said Munsch.
The CARAT series promotes regional maritime cooperation with many participating navies. Planning for each phase of CARAT begins a year in advance and exercise phases take place during the same general timeframe each year. CARAT 2014 began in late May and recently completed phases with Malaysia and Indonesia. Additional phases will continue through end of year with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore and Timor-Leste.
Press Release, June 27, 2014; Image: Wikimedia