Naval forces from the U.S. and Thailand kicked off the 23rd annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in Sattahip, Thailand, on May 29.
CARAT is a major naval engagement in South and Southeast Asia and provides a regional venue to address shared maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability among participating forces, and develop sustained naval partnerships with nations across South and Southeast Asia.
The Royal Thai Navy has been a participant in the CARAT series since the exercises began in 1995.
“Our engagement through CARAT provides the U.S. and Thailand an opportunity to strengthen our alliance and maritime partnership in very meaningful ways,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Task Force 73. “The complexity of the training and the diverse cadre of Sailors and Marines allow us to deepen relationships at all levels and create bonds of trust that span generations within our forces.”
CARAT Thailand 2017 consists of eight days of shore-based and at-sea training events in multiple warfare areas. The exercise features a robust sea phase with surface warfare maneuvering tactics, small-boat operations, manned and unmanned helicopter flight operations, communication exercises and more.
The shore phase will involve training across a range of naval competencies, including visit, board, search and seizure operations, diving and salvage, explosive ordnance disposal, medical training and others. Community service events are held throughout the exercise while the Seventh Fleet Rock Band “Orient Express” will perform at multiple venues in the Sattahip and Pattaya regions.
U.S. ships and units participating in CARAT Thailand 2017 include USS Coronado, USNS Millinocket, a P-3C Orion, Marines from 3rd marine division, explosive ordnance divers and the Seventh Fleet Rock Band “Orient Express.”
In the Philippines, CARAT will transition into a maritime training activity, focused on civil-military operations and counterterrorism training. The maritime engagement will also include a series of subject matter expert exchanges between participating forces.
The Singapore phase of CARAT will continue in 2017 under the name Pacific Griffin and will be held in Guam, alternating back to Singapore every other year under the name CARAT Singapore. This change in yearly venues allows the two navies to advance the complexity of maritime training utilizing diverse naval platforms and training areas. While the exercise series remains bilateral at its core, additional countries will participate in select CARAT 2017 exercises making those phases trilateral or multilateral.