BAY OF BENGAL –
Bangladesh Navy (BN) and U.S. military personnel are partnering in the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) maritime exercise, virtually and in the Bay of Bengal, beginning Dec. 1.
The nine-day engagement focuses on a full spectrum of naval capabilities and features cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of U.S. and Bangladesh to work together toward the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“This exercise underscores the excellent partnership between our militaries, and emphasizes both nations’ pledge for a free and open Indo-Pacific, where all nations can operate under a common maritime rules based order,” said Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, Commander Task Force (CTF) 76.
The at-sea phase will take place in the Bay of Bengal, where U.S. Navy forces will join with ships and aircraft from the Bangladesh Navy for partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships. U.S. Navy ships and aircraft include Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Tulsa (LCS 16) and embarked MH-60S Seahawk helicopter of Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron 21.
The exercise will feature complex at-sea training to demonstrate the bilateral force’s ability to work together through numerous events, including divisional tactics designed to enhance interoperability as ships sail together in complex maneuvers. Other focus areas include surface warfare, replenishment-at-sea, search and rescue, a gunnery exercise, and exchanges between Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians.
“Objectives of CARAT include enhancing regional cooperation and building relationships,” said Rear Adm. S M Abdul Kalam Azad, commander, Bangladesh Navy Fleet. “Bangladesh, and Bangladesh Navy, are honored to take part in these exercises since 2011. This year, we are hopeful that CARAT 2021 will be a more robust exercise with both in-person and virtual events.”
U.S. personnel include staff from CTF 72, CTF 75, CTF 76, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, U.S. 7th Fleet Band, and U.S. Embassy Dhaka. Virtual subject matter expert exchange events will feature a variety of joint training opportunities, to include maritime aviation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), Women, Peace & Security (WPS) symposium, and EOD and mine countermeasures.
The intergovernmental organization personnel from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will provide training through their Global Maritime Crime Programme, and the Bali Process Regional Support Office (BP-RSO) will provide subject matter expertise on combatting people smuggling and human trafficking by sea.
“Each event perfectly reflects the excellent collaboration between our navies, and emphasizes our partnership to promote regional security,” said Engdahl. “When we combine knowledge, skill and understanding of goals, cultures and ideals it truly makes us a more capable force. It also allows us to more easily combine forces outside of scheduled training during unplanned real-world events.”
The CARAT exercise series, celebrating its 27th anniversary, is designed to address shared maritime security concerns and strengthens partnerships between regional navies. With nearly a half century of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Bangladesh, the two countries continue to work closely together to advance a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific. CARAT Bangladesh 2021 underscores this shared commitment.
As the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed destroyer squadron in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as ESG 7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.
Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.