U.S., Thailand kick off CARAT in Sattahip

U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Thai Armed Forces are set to begin the 22nd annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise on June 16 with opening ceremonies at the Royal Thai Naval Base in Sattahip.

CARAT Thailand 2016 will consist of eight days of shore-based and at-sea training events through June 23 and is designed to address shared maritime security concerns, build relationships and enhance interoperability among participating forces. The exercise will take place in the Gulf of Thailand and in multiple locations ashore across Thailand.

At sea, both navies will participate in an air defense exercise, deck-landing qualifications, divisional tactics, a gunnery exercise and will execute a communications drill using the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). Each event is planned and executed in order to enhance cooperation and increase operational familiarity between the two navies.

During the exercise, U.S. Marines from 3rd Marine Division embarked on amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) will conduct an amphibious landing with their Royal Thai Marine counterparts. In addition to the amphibious landing, Marines will conduct training and share tactics on security operations and jungle warfare. CARAT Thailand 2016 will also feature the inclusion of expeditionary transfer dock USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1), supporting Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) operations during the amphibious landings.

This year’s harbor phase features a diving exercise, an engineering project; explosive ordnance live-fire training; visit, board, search and seizure training; medical and aviation training symposia; five community service events and eight band performances by the U.S. 7th Fleet rock band “Orient Express.”

Rear Adm. John Nowell, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, said: “Here in Thailand, I am confident that participating U.S. and Thai forces will advance the tenets that CARAT represents–cooperation and readiness. We stand together with Thailand in ensuring the region is safe, secure, and prosperous.”

CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste. CARAT 2016 will be the most complex series to date. Its continuing relevance for more than two decades speaks to the high quality of exercise events and the enduring value of regional cooperation among allies and partners in South and Southeast Asia.

U.S. assets participating in CARAT Thailand 2016 include amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem, Safeguard-class salvage ship USNS Salvor, USNS Montford Point, a P-3C Orion, Marines from 3rd Marine Division based in Okinawa, staff from CTF 73 and CDS 7, Coastal Riverine Group 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 4, Naval Beach Unit 7 and the 7th Fleet rock band “Orient Express.”