By Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific
The 25th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand concluded during a ceremony aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided missile destroyer USS Antietam (CG 54) at Sattahip Naval Base June 8.
The exercise, designed to address shared maritime security concerns and strengthen partnerships, included practical training covering the entire spectrum of naval operations, subject matter expert knowledge exchanges, and community outreach events.
“This year marks a significant milestone in the U.S.-Thailand CARAT series because it represents a quarter century of a partnership that grows in strength and value every day,” said Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Task Force 73. “For 25 years, we have worked together, shared knowledge and expertise, and have greatly improved our interoperability – we’re stronger together.”
CARAT Thailand featured more than a dozen ships and aircraft from the U.S. and Royal Thai Navies engaged in training at-sea and ashore.
“It’s very exciting to have the opportunity to operate at sea with our Royal Thai Navy counterparts because it is something you just can’t simulate,” said Capt. Adrian Ragland, commodore, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7. “The experience was invaluable and I can say with confidence that both sides took away a lot of knowledge and a better understanding of how each other operates.”
This year’s exercise also featured wide-ranging maritime training:
• Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) was a major focus of the exercise and consisted of numerous symposiums and knowledge exchanges, as well as a sea phase that included an integrated MDA Information Sharing Center.
• Submarine operations and tactics tabletop exercises, as well as integrated watch team practical drills inside the RTN Submarine Command Team Trainer.
• Integrated dive team training and practical dives between U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 and the RTN Navy Diver and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Center.
• Jungle survival training between U.S. Marine Rotational Force-Darwin Task Force and Royal Thai Marine Corps.
• Medical casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) field training exercises between U.S. Navy and RTN medical personnel, as well as preventive medicine knowledge exchanges.
“No country alone can ensure maritime security,” said Lt. Dave Copeland, MDA expert for Destroyer Squadron 7. “It requires coordinated efforts by all regional partner nations and agencies to actively share information in a transparent and timely manner so that we can all effectively conduct combined maritime response operations.”
“Our U.S. and Thai Sailors working together to share information are exercising an important capability and building relationships,” said Tynch. “Trust is critical to generating maritime domain awareness – which is the bedrock of rules-based order in this region.”
Participating assets for CARAT Thailand 2019 included staff from Commander, Task Force 73 and Commander, Destroyer Squadron 7, USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52), USS Antietam (CG 54), USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), Marine Rotational Force-Darwin Task Force, U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Band, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, Naval Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit 6, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, Patrol Squadron-8. Royal Thai Navy participation included various staffs and ships including HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421), HTMS Taksin (FFG 422), HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG 471), HTMS Rattanakosin (FS 441), HTMS Angthong (LPD 791), HTMS Lat Ya (MHS 633) and HTMS Mattapon (LCU 784).
CARAT, the U.S. Navy's oldest and longest continually running regional exercise in South and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific. The Royal Thai Navy has been a part of the annual CARAT series since the exercise began in 1995.
CARAT builds upon other engagements in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Maritime Training Activity Malaysia, Maritime Training Activity Philippines, Pacific Griffin with Singapore and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These engagements bring like-minded naval forces together routinely based on shared values and maritime security interests.