SATTAHIP, THAILAND –
The 29th Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand exercise concluded in Sattahip, May 15, following five days of in-person engagements that enhanced maritime interoperability between the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) and U.S. Navy.
CARAT Thailand took place ashore in Sattahip and at sea in the Gulf of Thailand. The exercise included participation from the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Mobile (LCS 26) with an embarked MH-60R Seahawk and a P-8A Poseidon alongside RTN frigates HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421), HTMS Bangpakong (FFG 456), and HTMS Kraburi (FFG 457).
“This past week contributed to regional maritime security by enhancing our ability to work side-by-side at sea, ashore, and in the air across a wide range of naval competencies,” said Commander Richard Skinnell, commanding officer of littoral combat ship USS Mobile (LCS 26). “The goal of this exercise was to strengthen our individual and combined abilities to better anticipate threats, protect sovereignty, respond to natural disasters and promote development.”
Thailand has been a part of the CARAT Exercise series since it began in 1995. CARAT has become a model for U.S. -Thai cooperation that continues to evolve in complexity in response to emerging challenges in the region.
Sailors were welcomed by a series of public performances and exchanges between both country’s navy bands, a sports day, and community service activities.
Ashore Sailors engaged in relationship building events, classroom subject matter expert exchanges, and practical education on subjects including medical training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Women, Peace and Security, aviation, unmanned aerial systems, legal, cyber and anti-submarine warfare and force protection.
At sea, exercises in the Gulf of Thailand included knowledge exchanges highlighting communication, divisional tactics, replenishment-at-sea approaches, anti-submarine warfare, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), maritime domain awareness (MDA), air defense, deck landing qualifications, search and rescue, and mine countermeasures.
“The people-to-people relationships that our nations were able to develop through professional exchanges, sports, and cultural events are a true testament of what we stand together to accomplish,” said Skinnell. “As two maritime nations who understand the vital role of protecting our seas and sovereignty, the lessons we were able to learn here will only strengthen our ability to build international stability and contribute to global prosperity.”
CARAT Thailand is a bilateral exercise between Thailand and the United States designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.
This year marks the 29th iteration of CARAT, a multinational exercise series designed to enhance U.S. and partner navies' abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.
Mobile, assigned to Destroyer Squadron 7, is on a rotational deployment, operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with Allies and partners and serve as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
As the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed DESRON in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as Commander, Task Force 76/3 Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements as the executing agent of Commander, Task Group CARAT.
Task Force 76/3 recently formed as a result of merging the staffs of Navy's Task Force 76, 7th Fleet, and 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with Allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.