13 June 2013

USA: CARAT Maritime Exercise Closes in Thailand

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Melissa K. Russell

<< U.S. Navy and Royal Thai Navy sailors stand at parade rest during the closing ceremony for the Thailand portion of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda S. Kitchner)

SATTAHIP NAVAL BASE, Thailand - The Thailand phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise 2013 ended with a closing ceremony at Sattahip Naval Base, June 12, following nearly two weeks of training ashore and at sea.

The closing wrapped up the at-sea phase of the annual bilateral exercise series which was designed to develop relationships, address shared maritime security priorities and enhance interoperability among the naval forces of the U.S. and Thailand. The formal ceremony included dignitaries from the U.S. Navy and Royal Thai Navy and Marines as well as a performance by the Royal Thai Navy band.

Rear Adm. Bill McQuilkin, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea and executive agent for CARAT Thailand, highlighted several of the events that took place, particularly an integrated humanitarian assistance disaster relief scenario involving a simulated earthquake and tsunami in Rayong Province.

"This highly realistic scenario took place over several days, allowed our forces to plan a combined, whole-of-government response, and culminated with relief operations from the sea involving our amphibious forces, construction engineers, Navy divers, civil affairs experts, explosive ordnance disposal units and medical professionals," McQuilkin said.

"The fact that we were able to bring these capabilities together successfully during this training scenario will greatly enhance our ability to respond effectively to real world events."

New this year, participating ships and aircraft transferred fuel during an underway replenishment, and personnel from both navies stood up a combined staff to control forces. Additional events included diving and salvage training, medical training, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training, community service projects, and a joint engineering civil action project. U.S. Marines practiced scout sniper integration and jungle survival training, while U.S. Navy riverine forces conducted training patrols in inter-coastal waters.

CARAT is a series of annual bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste.

More than 1200 Sailors and Marines participated in CARAT Thailand. U.S. Navy ships participating in the exercise included the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) with embarked U.S. Marine Corps landing force, diving and salvage vessel USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) with embarked Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, and the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54).

Additional participants in CARAT Thailand were staff from Destroyer Squadron Seven (DESRON 7), medical professionals and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) evaluators assigned to Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command (MCAST), Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Five (NMCB5), technicians from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units (EODMU) Five, divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MUDSU) One, P-3C Orion and MH-60 aircraft, and the U.S. Seventh Fleet Band, Orient Express.