US, Royal Thai Navy kick off 24th CARAT drill

Sailors and Marines from the US and Royal Thai Navy started the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series in Pattaya, June 14.

US, Royal Thai Navy ships break formation after completing a maneuvering exercise at sea during an earlier edition of CARAT Thailand. Photo: US Navy

The multi-nation exercise series is organized in bilateral phases with regional nations and is designed to enhance capabilities in a broad spectrum of naval operations.

In its the 24th iteration, the exercise series features cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of partner nations to work together towards the common goal of a stable Indo-Pacific maritime security environment.

“Twenty-four years of engagement through CARAT speaks volumes about the maritime partnership between the US and Thailand,” said Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of Task Force 73. “We appreciate the commitment of our partners from the Royal Thai Navy for bringing their enthusiasm, knowledge, and perspectives each year to this exercise that allows both navies to strengthen bonds while learning valuable skills from each other.”

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), expeditionary fast transport USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6), diving and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) and a P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft will participate in cooperative evolutions at sea alongside the Royal Thai Navy while Marine forces will engage in jungle training and live fire evolutions.

Construction projects will occur at a local school conducted by the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 and table top exercises and symposiums involving medical personnel, mine countermeasures experts, diving and salvage crews, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians will enhance the complexity and diversity of the training.

“We are pleased to operate at sea alongside our friends and partners from the US Navy,” said Capt. Thumrong Supunpong, commander, Royal Thai Navy exercise task unit. “This CARAT exercise provides valuable opportunities for our navies to learn from each other and increase our ability to work cooperatively together in a variety of realistic scenarios. We are grateful to the US Navy for their enduring partnership with the Royal Thai Navy.”

CARAT builds upon other engagements and exercises with Thailand to include Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) involving more than a dozen partner nations, and Cobra Gold, Indo-Pacific’s largest multinational exercise.

Additional phases of CARAT will occur in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Bangladesh in 2018 along with similar maritime training engagements and activities with Vietnam and the Philippines.