The U.S. and Royal Thai Navy concluded eight days of bilateral training events ashore and at sea and wrapped up the 2017 edition of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise on June 6.
This is the 23rd-annual CARAT exercise and the Royal Thai Navy has been a participant in the series since the exercises began in 1995.
“Over the past eight days our sailors and marines worked side-by-side with their Thai counterparts in conducting a variety of training events ashore and operations at sea,” said Capt. Alexis Walker, deputy commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. “Through 23 years of operating together, CARAT exercises allow us to incorporate new training topics and sea-based operations each year, furthering our interoperability and joint capabilities.”
At sea, for the first time during a CARAT exercise, one of Coronado’s embarked MQ-8B Firescout unmanned helicopters conducted a shoreline flight, testing the range and sensitivity of the RTN’s coastal defense radar system. Additionally, a rigid-hull inflatable boat simulated a fast-attack craft, which triggered the RTN ships HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421) and HTMS Sukhothai (FFS 442) to initiate self-defense measures.
“Coronado sailors enjoyed a complex and rewarding sea phase during CARAT Thailand,” said Cmdr. Doug Meagher, commanding officer, USS Coronado. “A wide range of maritime events allowed us to improve our interoperability with the talented professionals of the Royal Thai Navy.”
This year’s sea phase also included an air defense exercise, division tactics, communications exercises, a gunnery exercise, cross-deck flight operations, anti-submarine warfare operations, a photo exercise, and mine warfare operations.
Several new training events were added to this year’s shore phase, including a Basic Maritime Analysis Course. Designed to increase analytic skills that support and strengthen maritime domain awareness, 26 officers representing the six agencies within the Royal Thai Maritime Engagements Coordinating Center (MECC) attended the five-day training, which culminated in a practical scenario-based exercise.
Shore phase events in 2017 included engineering and damage control training; legal symposia; visit, board search and seizure training; diving operations and salvage training; mine warfare training; and anti-submarine warfare training. Sailors from Coronado also partnered with 7th Fleet’s rock band, “Orient Express,” for community relations activities at four schools and a child development center in Sattahip.
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.”